Portals of the Frozen Wastes
By James Wyatt
Somewhere in the Endless Ice Sea, nestled in a frozen valley carved from solid ice, a glorious city of graceful crystal towers once stood. Long before the rise of the first elf kingdoms of Faerûn, Jhothûn stood as the capital of a small but mighty empire -- an empire of giants whose descendants are now called frost giants. The giants of Jhothûn, like the humans of ancient Calimshan, ruled in close collaboration with a form of geniekind -- relatives of the djinn, but better suited to the icy regions of the Uttermost North: cold spirits known as qorrash.
In this time of distant memory, Jhothûn's lords ruled all the cold places of Faerûn, from the Sea of Moving Ice in the west to the Great Ice Sea in the east. Aided by the qorrash, they mastered great magic, inuring themselves to the unending winter of their homeland, shaping the weather itself to their liking, and -- most relevant to the matter at hand -- joining the three great provincial cities of this empire to its capital, Jhothûn.
Virtually all memory of ancient Jhothûn is lost, as even the guardians charged with protecting the portals have no real understanding of what they guard or why (Tosvin, the gelugon in the Great Glacier is the closest to real knowledge). Though the empire is long fallen -- sundered by rebellion among the provincial governors and rent by white dragons that made long war on the giants -- clues to its history lie in the portals, their guardians, and their ultimate destination.
Each portal has a guardian -- Thurghom in the Sea of Moving Ice, the Red Worm under the High Ice, and Tosvin in the Great Glacier -- who discovered the portal and somehow communicated with it. In fact, the guardians were communicating with a qorrashi, the last of the noble line of advisors or "princes" of ancient Jhothûn, whose magic allowed him to speak and listen through the portals and gain the obedience of the guardians. For countless centuries, the princes of Jhothûn have recruited guardians for each portal, seeking to preserve the ruins of Jhothûn from the plundering that similar ancient ruins across Faerûn have experienced. They do this hoping that someday, somehow, someone will discover the proper royal line of Jhothûn among the giants and restore it to the rule of this lost Empire.
The city of Jhothûn is lost to the ice and the passage of time, but the royal palace of the Emperors still stands and is maintained by the constant attention of the princes of Jhothûn . Maps of the palace are available in the Map-a-Week archive, and a map of the third floor is included below.
The portals from the Sea of Moving Ice, the High Ice, and the Great Glacier all emerge in the palace in the round tower on the third floor. Each portal allows two-way travel, and the three portals are marked by carved and engraved archways spaced around the tower.
The portal leading to the Sea of Moving Ice stands on the west side of the tower, surrounded by an inscription reading, "The city of Karffbadh, seat of the Satrap of the Moving Ice, loyal servant of the Emperor of Jhothûn. May the qorrash smile upon it and nurture its mighty works, and keep the Satrap firm in loyalty. From thence shall the power of the Emperor extend to the west."
The portal leading to the High Ice stands on the south side of the tower. Its inscription reads, "The city of Choshein, seat of the Satrap of the High Ice, loyal servant of the Emperor of Jhothûn. May the qorrash smile upon it and nurture its mighty works, and keep the Satrap firm in loyalty. From thence shall the power of the Emperor extend to the south."
The portal leading to the Great Glacier stands on the east side of the tower, and its inscription is nearly identical to that outside the gate of Gharreil: "The city of Gharreil, seat of the Satrap of the Great Glacier, loyal servant of the Emperor of Jhothûn. May the qorrash smile upon it and nurture its mighty works, and keep the Satrap firm in loyalty. From thence shall the power of the Emperor extend to the east."
The palace of Jhothûn is a destination worthy of the effort put into seeking it. It is filled with artifacts both magical and historical -- items that predate the rise of Netheril and the flourishing of humanity in Faerûn. All are sized for Huge giants, of course, like the palace itself -- and unlike modern magic items, they generally do not resize themselves to fit the wearer. Still, the palace holds riches beyond imagining -- and certainly the Empire of Shade is not the only nation in Faerûn that would go to any lengths to have exclusive access to those riches or to keep them out of others' hands.
Visitors will also find one living resident of Jhothûn: its last prince. He is a qorrashi whose only name is that of the long-lost empire he serves. The Prince of Jhothûn is the only living creature who knows the details of Jhothûn's glorious history, and he is the only one remaining who still clings to the hope of restoring it to its former glory.
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