The season of Frostfall brings with it many tales, from simple childhood remembrances to historical facts that have been filtered through the centuries to become the myths of today. The denizens of Ramsgate have many such stories to share. Enjoy with a mug of Frostfall Warmer between intrepid expeditions into the frontier!
The Flight of Silver Nikola
Shall I tell you the story of Silver Nikola, Slayer? For every island has its own version of this classic Frostfall myth. All who live in the Shattered Isles know the tale. You probably do as well. A time in the nearly forgotten past, mere months - not years, decades, or centuries - after the Behemoths broke the world.
There were no island states then, only ragged groups of human survivors struggling to make sense of what had happened, and fighting to stay alive in the newly birthed Shattered Isles. They were desperate. Starving. Water was scarce, families separated or decimated. Humanity was on the verge of death. And then the cold arrived, threatening to push us right over the edge.
She heard their cries and frightened prayers, huddled around their dwindling aether machines; their increasingly primitive shelters and fires. She was known as Silver Nikola, and they say she appeared on the darkest night of Frostfall riding her silver stag across the sky. The seemingly unending bounty she shared with the survivors has only grown with the telling over the years. People went from starvation and shivering terror, to feasts and merriment overnight.
The fall of frost upon the Shattered Isles would not last, nor would it defeat us. It would not end a people who’d weathered a world shattered and watched monsters of raw power conquer the rest. And to prove it, Silver Nikola would return every Frostfall, once again astride her silver stag: the Frostfall Queen, glorious and kind, bringing festive warmth during the coldest nights of the year.
This myth - dramatic and embellished though it may be - is almost certainly based in fact. I have my suspicions - and intriguing evidence that suggests there was nothing magical about Silver Nikola. Perhaps I will share my hypothesis with you at some point in the future. For now, let us never forget what Silver Nikola did for the Shattered Isles so long ago.
– Arkan Drew’s “The Flight of Silver Nikola the Frostfall Queen”
Reasons for the Season
The season of Frostfall is indeed an enigmatic phenomenon. I know what happens, and when. I can even map the courses with startling precision, naturally. I have the how. Do I have the why? I don’t know. But I have made it my business to understand the scientific principles that cause this unusual cold snap every year. I’d like to share what I’ve learned, if you’re interested.
We know that the Shattered Isles, despite their sometimes chaotic collisions and occasionally erratic behavior, tend to follow predictable patterns in aggregate. That is how - and why - the aethersmith makes useful readings. Without predictability he would have nothing to compare his readings against.
It is this aggregate behavior that makes Frostfall itself a predictable enigma, albeit still an enigma. In short, some generalized aetheric fields keep these islands together, broadly speaking.
That is what happens during Frostfall. With a few notable exceptions, like the rogue islands of Krolach, all the Shattered Isles pass through a part of the sky that is infused with frost aether. And for a few weeks that causes all the Isles to enter a peculiar meteorological loop - not just the Ram, not just Ostia, not merely the Interior, not Harran or Tiefland alone, but ALL of the Isles - dip in elevation slightly. That dip, in turn, though only comprising a few fathoms, causes the majority of islands to brush against the cold reaches of the sky below. Reaches that are also suffused with frost.
And there you have it. Frostfall is mysterious, but it is a mystery we understand better now than ever before.
– Cartographer Gaius Copperwheel’s scientifict observations
Home for Frostfall
Yo, Slayer! I heard the eggheads were filling your brain with myths, legends, and actual science facts. Those two are never going to really understand what makes Frostfall special. But I can tell you how my family used to celebrate, when mom was still alive. No one should be without family stories this time of year.
I’ll never forget the last Frostfall the entire family was together. My brothers - did you know I have three brothers? - were in town. One on leave from his freight-hauling job, another taking a break from the University of St. Avellaine, and a third who took time off from training as a Slayer to be home for the holiday.
Now my mother was one hell of an armoursmith. She was great at damned near everything, really. Everything except cooking. So dad would usually handle the Frostfall feast every year, right? Well, that last Frostfall, she insisted on preparing the feast entirely on her own.
I have to tell you, we were none too pleased, my brothers and I. Dad just seemed to find the whole thing funny, at least at first. Then she started serving the meal.
It was, no kidding, some of the best food I’ve ever had, Frostfall feast or no. Leg of ram roasted to perfection. Braised vegetables in delicate sauces. Fresh, piping hot bread with butter. Butter! It wasn’t until she brought out dessert that we figured it out. Well, dad figured it out. It was the pies. There were the usual Frostfall pies: snowberry, chillfruit, blintz-meat… and also pumpkin.
Everybody knows pumpkin pie is a Dark Harvest dessert. And everyone knows that Dark Harvest pumpkins don’t last, not even the lumpy kind. Unless you put them in cold storage. The jig was up!
Mom had paid a visiting chef from Tiefland to prepare the entire thing in the back of the smithy, which was closed for the feast, of course. They smuggled the mutton and pie and everything else through the back door of the kitchen while the rest of us were catching up after a year or so apart. And you know why she said did it? Because it didn’t matter whether she made the meal herself or went through an INSANE amount of trouble to get it to us, mom made sure everyone got to spend a last Frostfall together and happy.
She finally told us about the illness a couple of months later. Smithing aether has a lot of risks beyond setting your hair on fire or smashing your thumb with a hammer.
She’d hate this. But I think mom would’ve liked you, Slayer. You appreciate what’s important. So did she. And as long as I keep telling her stories she’ll always be here for Frostfall.
– Armoursmith Moyra Heigsketter invites you to share your family story
My friend! You bless this humble Ostian weaponsmith with your visit this fine Frostfall season. Smart as you are, Wils surely needs not to tell you that Frostfall tradition has its origins in Ostia. Unless… Perhaps you did not know?
Unacceptable! Let your good friend Wils tell you about how we celebrate the season in the finest island state in the Shattered Isles.
In Ostia, we do not simply roast sheep and potatoes. Nor do we create humble pies like our friend Moyra. Of course we do not, for Ostia has no sheep and very few potatoes. What Ostia has is metal. A lot of metal. There is a good reason the old empire was never conquered in the wars. Metal is very sturdy and often pointy as well.
A true Ostian Frostfall feast is giant beast roasted on spikes over an oily flame. A giant cauldron filled with every root vegetable known to humanity, boiling for hours. And of course the desserts, Slayer. Crumbled nuts on caramel sticks. Curdled flan. Candied beets. Meat cake. Unforgettable food for many reasons.
But Wils will not be having an Ostian feast this year. Too many friends and Slayers need fine Ostian weapons, and Wils is here to serve. And yes, profit, but there is nothing wrong with that!
So you see, without Ostia there would be no Frostfall celebrations. Why, one might even consider calling it… Ostfall.
– Weaponsmith Wils Bormen relates a possibly (definitely) exaggerated version of Frostfall’s Ostian origins