Lakes of Blood and Ash
Fortress of Shield
The fortress complex of Shield has a ruin long before being settled and inhabited by the the League. Before the League possessed airship technology or could even really be called a league, the ruins were known of and years later it was used as a drop point and resupply base for the Wind Fleet. The fleet would range out from the ruins to forecast the level of Wyld activity for the season and as the years wore on, it was built up and finally became a year-round facility in RY 693.
The league no longer only uses it as a forecast sight or early warning, but as a bulwark to protect the Gulf of Fjells around which must of the League lives and trades. The client nations send young men to be trained here and the city is even now looking for ways to be more self-sufficient. The fortresses have old artifacts that the archaeologian-engineers have as yet been unable to understand. Still, Shield has become known throughout the League and Jarl Uthbrict has been recognized with an honorary title of Oligarch for so long as he hold his station as High Commander of the Ice Squadron.
Shield is entrenched in the northernmost peaks of the Ossuarium Mountains, where the mammoth herds of the Tuskstad seek their deaths. It’s frequently cut off from the world around it by wyld fogs and other times terrible blizzards. It’s ports can only truly be considered open in late spring and midsummer. Unlike most of the League’s great cities, it possesses not greenfields or emerald, the nearest ones a month away on foot in the best conditions and held by Ironfalls, who has little enough to spare.
The north of Shield is blasted expanse of endless ice and strange lights. The Fae hold this land in truth and stalk it’s field openly and with gall. No nomadic tribes nor even “normal” beasts walk these lands. Mutants with the clear blood of ice and death reside in palaces of ice, cloud, and otherworldly light. In the summer sound numbing bouts of ice thunder roll across the plains as the gods of air and lords of Wyld spare over the uninhabited land. Occasionally a ship of the League will sail north from Shield and spy the aftermath, shattered fields of ice and shaped spears of ice stabbing up from the earth.
South of Shield, rich fishing can be found in the northern bay. Crabs the size of oxen, schools of buttery cod that seem endless, and toothed whales as large as modest ships all inhabit the sea. Nearer to the shore monstrous toothed seals feed on rumored clam beds, believed to exist only by the contents of their stomachs when slaughtered.
Architecture And Building Styles
Shield stands guard at the northern tip of Mela’s Fangs and the League’s northern boundary. Their duty is to stymie the hoards of Fair Folk that exist in the fogs at the top of the world. Poor in any form of wealth or resources, the city is staffed and maintained by the League as a whole for the betterment of their overall welfare and trade. Lacking any greenfields, Shield relies on fishing to fill her deep stores.
5,000 live within the main fortress and hundreds more in the smaller forts nearby. Each built in the old spartan Shogunate style and the main keep possessing tall towers for mooring airship and flat parade grounds for maintenance far above any battle that might rage below. A single large mooring deck resides under the east wing of the keep and the few scout vessels of Shield are weathered here.
The city crypt lies in the deepest recesses of the main fortress, a retrofitted and massive storage level. It is customary that one those who fall in battle be buried in Shield, all others sent home to their loved ones and their family tombs. Those heroes interred here are remembered and honored by the generations of soldiers who serve after them, stark reminders of the danger here, perhaps a last garrison to call upon when the walls a breached.
Despite relative poverty and lack of social mobility outside the guard, those that call Shield a permanent home think they are more free and more independent than other Haslanti. Though the Wind Fleet and the Ice Squadron use Shield as a base, personnel from the military rarely interact much with these Shieldings, largely fishermen and seal harvesters. These men and women are asked few questions and given less trust. Those that come here of their own accord must have something they are running from and a dark past.
The Shield is run under a strict and unforgiving military law and the guilty tried by it’s junta. In the face of Wyld Fogs and Fair Folk incursions, there is no room for selfishness or graft. Those that are found acting outside the established rules, those awarding privileges outside of the system, committing theft, disregarding orders or simple dereliction of duty, all of these persons are placed on half rations and put in chains. Those of more serious infractions are sent home in disgrace, their family paying steep fines and the perpetrator branded for their trespass. The Shieldlings, when found to be stealing or tampering with the proper function of the guard, are sent north as scouts when the winds are too fierce for travel by air. Otherwise, a swift execution is held and the dead unceremoniously sunk to the bottom of the fangs for the crabs to sort out.
There is not much room for outside tradition during a stint in Shield. Soldiers are encouraged to pray to the honored dead to watch over and guide them while the Wind Fleet throw their throaty devotions into the cold air, directed towards the gods of wind and storm. The Shieldlings have their own rites, smearing their hair with blood and oil and dedicating their hunts to Kireeki and sometimes, in the depths of winter, to the fire under the sea for warmth and salvation.
Shield is a military instillation and as such it is a veritable fortress. Though the north has little manpower to provide and only a little over a legion or 5000 soldiers man the battlements, they are well supported by archaeologian-engineers and what they have recovered from Diamond Hearth. These unearthed technologies provide principality absolute superiority over combat intelligence and logistic resupply, but the League also possesses great wealth for it’s small population and has reinforced their own recovered first age armaments with stockpiles of flamedust from the far south via Linowan tradesmen.
Engaging the Fair Folk or even wyld mutants on the ground is avoided at all costs. The superior speed and strength of such beings, and their indifferent attitude towards the cold, it invites only slaughter. Shield rules of engagement dictate that soldiers man the walls when able, retreating indoors when Wyld fogs sweep in, and begin rotating shifts rapidly to minimize exposure. When the weather allows, airships are to move out and herd Wyld mutants away from the southern valley via firedust grenades and bomblets. When the Fae take to the field, the airships are used as platforms from which to fire bolts of cold iron or to drop fine nets of the same. The League knows that a concerted Wyld attack would overwhelm Shield, or rather sweep past it. Shield is expected to be a ultimately empty show of force and a thorn in the back of any invasion. Thankfully, the Wyld has shown only mild, wary interest in the League thus far.