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53. Region — Taiga Boreal

53. Region — Taiga Boreal

Look and Feel

Taiga Boreal is a snowy and icy mountainous region on the northern tip of the west island. Thick clouds are prominent as they roll through, morphing and dissipating around the mountain ranges. The climate is freezing except for an isolated area to the north edge of the world. Tied together by a fast-frozen lake and an extensive tunnel and geyser system beneath the ice, the site grants access to various other areas in the Region.

Map

Observatory

The Region’s highest peak is the Observatory and is home to the Obelisk. On the East side of the mountain are three lesser mountain tops, nicknamed “The Three Brothers”. The Everclouds, which blanket the entire Region, are thick in this area, giving it a mystical fortress-like atmosphere.

Upon arriving here, one will soon realise why it’s named the Observatory as one can view the entire Region in all its glory. The thin air compounds the cold with a wind that delivers a piercing freeze. Despite the brutal conditions, the beauty is hard to ignore and can momentarily distract you from the cold.

Despite a dark blue sky that dissipates the clouds the further they travel, radiation from the planet and the sun interact in the upper atmosphere, creating a spectacular colourful light show. Light particles dance above and rain down before losing their charge and disappearing.

Surrounding the Obelisk are thick fractured sheets of ice, making it look like it’s sunk into the ground. Ice sheets move with the water under them.

Heat radiates within the Obelisk creating liquid beneath the surface. The water surrounding the Obelisk is an obsidian blue that tints the ice giving it a spectacular appearance similar to coloured glass.

The Obelisk at the peak of the Observatory — towering over everything else.The Obsidian coloured ice sheets surrounding the Obelisk.

The area around the Obelisk is somewhat flat, and from here, various other places become accessible. On the south side of the Obelisk is a steep slope leading down the mountain. Going to the bottom via the snow-covered platforms leads to the Three Brothers.

Three Brothers

Three pointy mountain peaks pierce the everclouds. Each point is a different height, and spectacular blue ice covers all three. The smallest mountain is half the size of the middle brother and a quarter the height of the biggest brother, giving them a harmonious and aesthetically-pleasing composition.

The base of the mountains is a black rock that contrasts with the blue ice-covered peaks. When sunlight hits the mountains at the right time, they appear to have an opal and pearl-like shimmer. During winter, a rainbow holographic light show engulfs the three peaks at sunset, a rare but spectacular sight.

The holographic peaks create a breathtaking light show in the sky.

The Fall

The Observatory is also the starting point for the highest known waterfall on the planet, known as The Fall. Water travels from underneath the Obelisk towards the cliff and feeds The Fall. Towering 1000 meters in height, it’s a magnificent sight, whether looking at it from below or standing at the top. Atop The Fall, water has eroded the rock creating two formations that stick out and provide a vantage point and spectacular views of the northern part of the Region.

The Obelisk at the peak of the mountain — towering over everything else.

A peculiar feature of The Fall is that the outer layer is completely frozen; however, within this giant column of ice is a liquid core of constantly flowing water. Several cracks in this gigantic waterfall spray water out into the air, and as this water drips down, it eventually turns into snowflakes. The radiation from the Obelisk keeps the water flowing at a temperature that allows this peculiar natural feature to exist in both a solid and liquid state.

Dethrose at the bottom of The Fall.

At the base of The Fall is a giant hole that grants access to a vast tunnel network underneath the frozen lake. This hole is a dormant geyser. However, it still bubbles and boils at the bottom, creating large plumes of smoke dispelled by the wind as they rise out of it.

The Frozen Court

The large frozen lake in Taiga Boreal is known as The Frozen Court, an expansive area at the base of The Fall. Across this open space, the wind is the dominant force, as powerful blasts sweep snow clear from the frozen surface, creating giant snow dunes around the lake’s edge.

The liquid body of water below the thick ice has made parts of the lake unstable, and much like tectonic plates — the ice sheets battle against one another. This friction creates cracks that release high pitched, laser-like sounds that can sometimes be deafening.

Several giant geysers underneath the Frozen Court have created holes across this lake, which shoot water out and can provide exit points from inside the tunnel network below.

Occasionally deep underneath the ice, one may notice a purple light blink, opening and closing like an eye. The source of this light is a mystery and is similar to phenomena in the Overflow, Baifun Stairs and Anguith Boneyard.

Large holes across the Frozen Court sometimes blow out smoke and water.

Strong winds have eroded ice at the far north end of the Frozen Court to create unique structures and peculiar bridge formations. Large plateaus and narrow ice paths leave one feeling that they may break and collapse at any moment.

Surrounding the furthest edges of the Frozen Court are giant, unclimbable ice cliffs that tower into the sky. It is still possible to ascend these walls; however, this requires both a jetpack and active geysers and good timing.

The impressive ice walls surrounding the Frozen Court give it an elegant look.

The Frozen Court appears to be a dead, cold empty lake on the surface. However, the true magic of this area lies below.

Under The Frozen Court

The tunnel network under The Frozen Court has an access point at the base of The Fall. The various holes that lead to the surface allow light to travel down, illuminating shiny icicles and support beams in this vast labyrinth. The world that exists beneath is genuinely stunning.

The wind is non-existent here, and the only reminder of the harsh conditions outside is the snow drifting in from above. Periodically, a large rumbling can be heard, followed by vibrations that cause the icicles to crack and fall. Acrid steam fills the tunnels as it escapes to the surface, indicating an imminent release from the underground geysers.

Pudotus is the most significant underground hole. A flowing body of boiling liquid has carved the ice, creating thin arches, ridges, and spires which one must navigate to reach the ‘Geyser Room’. The geyser there is one of the most powerful and active in the Region and can be used to lead one back to the surface.

Pudotus — the most significant hole in the underground cave system. Marked Red on the map

Skelter’s Maze

On the lake’s northwest side, giant sheets of ice and rock have shot up from the depths, creating an odd area known as Skelter’s Maze. While not expansive, it has some remarkable natural features within it. There are two entrances from the Frozen Court, one at the north end and one at the south end.

The northern entrance is wide and inviting, providing some cover from the harsh wind outside.At the southern entrance, winds have scarred the ice walls.

Once inside, the wind is absent, and the pristine silence is immediately noticeable. The ice walls and ground are perfectly smooth, reflecting strangely new images. The walls tend to tilt slightly forward or backward — creating an angular network of reflections on the floor that help light finds its way throughout.

Skelter’s Maze has two particular areas.

Elxis Hall is an open space with a functioning geyser in the middle. The water boils, and the moisture expelled persists around this chamber. The geyser periodically activates and flushes the room clean.

Attached to the walls, hundreds of ice blooms have developed, giving it a uniquely beautiful appearance. Due to frequent hot water spouting, the ground in this space is perfectly smooth, and the walls have tilted forward, culminating in a hole at the top.

The Elxis HallThe impressive geyser in the middle of Elxis Hall.

Dmittar’s Cove

Dmittar’s Cove is accessed via a tiny tunnel barely the size of a Ranger. Following the tunnel leads to a large chamber containing a bubble or possibly an egg. Once inside, shining a light on the walls reveals an ice sheet, showing countless frozen bubbles stuck in the ice forever.

The small tunnel leading towards the underground chambers of Dmittar’s CoveInside the chambers of Dmittar’s Cove

Skare

The Ridge has collapsed, creating jagged platforms that lead down into the clouds, where eventually the drops become too steep and a safe landing uncertain—hidden underneath the ‘Stairs’ towards Skare. This small entrance leads to a tiny tunnel — barely fitting a Ranger — made from smooth ice.

End’s Ridge

End’s Ridge is in the southwest of the Region, and its signature feature is a monumental peak covered by sizeable Dethrose reaching into the sky. Among the carved ridges, small plants have grown. A strange eerie hum emanates from the Dethrose, and a distinct subtle heat constantly radiates.

The End’s Ridge Dethrose, reaching up as if attempting to flee the mountain.

The Heart

The Heart is a strange area that takes its name from the pulsating heat phenomena. A Solon fragment hides between rocks and pulsates heat outwards in this area. This heat melts ice and snow, forming streams of warm water which travel into a large hole. Venturing too close to this is dangerous as pulsating heat is ionising. The Heart is in the north of the Region.

This hole is right behind a large Ice wall of the Frozen Court. Below it is another Geyser — which one can also reach through the cave system in The Frozen Court. Using this geyser leads to an area where it is possible to witness the beating Heart Of The Mountain.

When close enough to the Heart — a small corridor becomes visible, which leads you to Transfere.

Transfere

Transfere is a deep ridge in the mountain covered by a lush green forest at its base, with streams and natural hot springs that dot the landscape. The peculiar atmosphere makes the area feel strangely out of place from the rest of the Region.

Entrance to Transfere. Heading down the steep slopes leads to an entirely different world, warm and alive.

Snow streams run down to the valley to provide water for the plants here, including thousands of tiny flowers that grow disproportionality and small trees. A plant that’s quite prominent is the Wolf’s Bane, a vibrant blue flower that grows and towers above everything else. When released, the pollen from this plant can cause breathing problems, nausea, and paralysis.

53. Region — Taiga Boreal was originally published in Illuvium on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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