“After nine days of travel we came upon a vast stretch of grasslands. I could see a great mountain in the distance rising above the plains. According to our guide, this was land of the Tomarin Lords who sit on iron thrones and rule from iron mountains. Their castles sit on “pillars of air and lakes of fire”, where stone flows like water and soldiers wear skirts of steel. Where war and honor, battle and glory, are one.”
From the Journals of Olmik Danikian, Second Officer of the Arctic Wolf
The citadels of the Iron States are generally built upon the same design. Each appears as a squat tower some 12 to 15 floors tall and built around the central shaft. Some are circular, while others are square or octagonal. Minor architectural variations give each Citadel a unique character. Citadels have many subterranean levels to support the extensive mining operations throughout the fire cairn. Each citadel is virtually impregnable. Local villages and towns swear fealty to their closest citadel. However, some towns are independent.
The most important architectural feature of each Citadel is the great central shaft. Every Citadel has a huge shaft running vertically through the entire building (it may or may not be open at the top). This shaft is built directly over the naturally occurring central shaft of the fire cairn. Numerous balconies built into the many levels provide a wondrous view of the shaft. Catwalks often crisscross over the gaping chasm at various heights. Far below, within the stony shaft of the fire cairn, mines pierce the sides of the shaft. Metal carts on rails carrying stone and ore to and fro as the miners dig deeper into the mine. The fire cairn is the source of their metal and their wealth. It is the heart of the Citadel.
Citadels are constructed with a mix of stone and steel. Huge amounts of iron are used in their construction and each is covered in a skin of metal a half meter thick. Because the Citadels are almost entirely of metal, and because of the frequent spring and autumn rains, most of the Citadels wear a layer of permanent rust. For this reason, they are sometimes referred to as the Red Citadels. It should be noted that not all of the Citadels are rusted on their exterior. Some of the dukes have gone to great lengths to keep their Citadels free of rust. This is done by labor, magic or both.
The geography of this region is mostly flat grasslands and sparse forests or gentle rolling land. The stark exception to this rule is the fire cairns that dominate the landscape, rising abruptly from flat prairies. The fire cairns themselves are remarkable geological formations and are found no where else in the world. Each cairn is a massive stony hill rising out of the plain with a mineral laden core.
The "core" of a fire cairn is physically a great shaft in the top of a hill. Shafts are typically 100 meters in diameter and about 1000 meters deep. A pool of lava is at the bottom. Each shaft continually generates heat, steam and other gases. The sides of the shaft are mineral rich. Typically a citadel will mine these walls with secondary mining shafts which go horizontally into the earth radiating out from the central shaft.
At the bottom of the central shaft there is a large pool of molten rock and metal. This molten core is extremely rich in precious metals. Due to the intense heat and emission of toxic fumes, it is difficult to mine at this depth. However, some clever metal smiths have developed methods for extracting valuable metals from the pool including shadow steel and adamantium
Each fire cairn provides large quantities of quarried stone, iron, gold, copper, silver, gemstones and heat. The hot air which continually flows out of the shaft is usually captured, channeled through a ventilation system and used to heat the Citadel. Many Citadels have also harnessed the abundant geothermal energy to heat huge water reservoirs and pump hot water throughout the fortress.
Although they are quite similar to standard volcanoes, fire cairns are extremely stable and rarely erupt. Fire cairns vary little in size and shape. Heated air from the main shaft is channeled through smaller shafts and vents to heat all parts of the citadel.
There are a total of 63 fire cairns. Eighteen of these have citadels. There are 30 "dead" fire cairns… cairns who have used up their fuel source and now sit dark and cold. The ruins of old citadels sit atop these burned out husks. The remaining cairns have not yet been claimed because they are too small and have not yet evolved sufficiently.
This website was last updated March 31, 2021. Copyright 1990-2021 David M. Roomes.