A group of Isalfur Elves and a rather cold-looking Andazhu Dwarf crest a dune of hardened snow and ice, their sled being pulled by several large bear-like creatures. A plume of thick, black smoke escapes from a metallic cylinder on the rear — clearly some sort of furnace. Behind this sled in which our passengers ride upon are several other sleds, packed with cargo. The camera pans up to reveal that they have been on this course for a long time, having not deviated for at least several hours.
The ruined remains of a larger city are seen as we rotate around our group, the sled avoiding the larger debris in its way. There is something else, though. The snow and ice give way to rocks, trees, and grass as pipes can be seen crisscrossing the uncovered landscape. Several large furnaces, similar in appearance to the one on the sled but much larger are also billowing smoke into the sky.
We follow the sled as it passes under the arcane-looking architecture that is frozen, falling apart, and otherwise forgotten. There is no similar architecture in the warmer clime that is allowed to exist thanks to the devices found there. We see the faces of our mushers, covered in frost and snow. The dwarf catches the glimpse of several frozen elves locked in the ice — corpses now — and wipes his eyes in a way to try and convince the elves by his side that the sun was bothering him instead of his surroundings.
“Don’t weep for them, erlendverg. They trusted the magics that got us into this mess.” The oldest of them keeps his eyes ahead. The youngest of the Isalfur though, a young woman bundled warmly in multiple layers, can’t help but follow the dwarf’s gaze across the remnants of places she never saw before now. “Forgive me,” the dwarf replies while adjusting his hood, “I’m used to mourning all the deceased, regardless of where they placed their trust.”
A younger Isalfur man lifts his arm and places his hand on the dwarf’s shoulder. “…and that is noble, Nabopalassar. But the cold on Hridhybyli is not like any of the monsters you’d have experience with. Some of our kind, such as the ones that lived here in what was once the Wizard-City of Veivisamaður, not only welcomed the madman who caused this but actively engaged in assisting him.”
Enthusiastically, the young woman speaks up. “That’s why we try not to use magic anymore.” The dwarf nodded. Where he was from, monsters could easily be slain with the right tools. He knew the moment he stepped on Hridhybyli that the cold did indeed feel different. It felt…evil, or at least that it held malicious intent.
The sled starts to slow as the snow beneath it is replaced with loose rock and sand. Its final resting place is in front of a large building made of stone. Almost as if perfectly choreographed, the final movements of their transport summons what appears to be an endless stream of Isalfur Elves, quickly making their way to move the cargo on the sleds indoors.
The oldest of the Isalfur on the sled removes his hood and a pair of goggles, revealing bright bronze eyes resting within wrinkled lavender skin. “Our part of the bargain is complete, Nabopalassar.” He walks up to the Andhazu and stares into his eyes to the point of making the dwarf feel even colder. “You wanted to get away from people who wanted you dead. We needed someone to help people who want to live.”
“Teach us how this technology of yours works.” Nabopalassar let out his breath, watching it bellow forth like a jet of steam before vanishing. He smirked and nodded. There was going to be a lot of work to do.