8. The North Peaks
"In the cold and dark, the light is born."
The North Peaks are home to the soldiers who garrison The Lands. They are the police and army rolled into one. They catch criminals, provide security for those in power and are usually the deciding force in any civil wars and rebellions that might erupt. They have a presence everywhere, even the Marshlands and the Fire Wastes but they are felt most strongly in the five great cities. Their base in the North Peaks is the second highest mountain in the lands: White Mountain.
White Mountain is, ironically, the largest deposit Black Diamond. Although the precious stone can come in all colours, it is called black because it is so dense that it no light can pass through it, in fact it absorbs light. This creates a strange effect whereby the diamond appears dark until seen in pitch black when it glows with it's actually colour.
The garrison (and village where the wives and children of the soldiers live) are cut into the mountain. It is widely believe that the fortress began as a mine but found that others would steal their hard earned diamonds rather than mine themselves. So, they trained guards to protect their stores. However the men were so well trained that people began to hire them to work elsewhere. Soon the miners found that they could earn more money as a mercenary army and transformed their tunnels into a mighty fortress that, due to it's foundations in black diamond, is near impossible to destroy. As their ranks grew, they built more, less sturdy, castles until they occupied the entire mountain range.
The conditions in the North Peaks are tough with the sun never setting for one to two months of the year and it never rising the rest of the time. While the temperature never rises above 10 degrees Celsius, hot springs can be found in caves in the roots of the mountains. These springs are rumoured to have healing properties but the army is rather touchy about letting outsiders near their base so only the very rich and influential get to feel the heat of these magical waters.