Part 253: The Ruins of Syrupleaf
A desolate wind blew in from the north, as cruel and bitter as the snow and ice below it. The glacier was no stranger to this wind, for it was one of a hundred reasons travelers had been unable to cross the frozen ice for many years. It was said the glacier was cursed, and that the fall of Syrupleaf caused the very gods themselves to go into mourning. In their sorrow they made the fortress and the surrounding lands hallowed ground, protecting it with vicious cold, wind, and wild animals.
It had been centuries since the fall of the fortress. Once a place of great joy as well as tragedy, constantly bustling with the noise of industry and battle, Syrupleaf had gone silent and cold over these years. But though time had worn away at the fallen bones and bodies, it could not destroy the very stone the fort was made from.
This was Syrupleaf.
An adventurer relying on a mere map would be lost among these ruins. There are many versions and corrections of the historical maps, many of which simply contradict each other. The most updated copies tell of an entrance off in the north, away from the main gatehouse, but you'd find that place blocked by a strange wall of ice. Dark and ominous shapes can be seen suspended in the ice...as if something was encased in it.
The main gatehouse would also be blocked, its previous entrance walled off. Many traders had spoken of this gatehouse with dreadful whispers, claiming it was cursed. No wonder, given how many caravans had met their end here.
(I absolutely love how you can see the middle finger tribute from the entrance)
It's probably for the best that all entrances to the fortress were blocked off, for Syrupleaf itself is empty and silent. If there were ghosts or spirits inhabiting the fort they did not make their presence known. Abandoned bedrooms, workshops, and dining rooms populated the ruins. Statues stood guard, forever keeping sentry over the empty halls.
Outside of Syrupleaf there are many interesting and bizarre landmarks and monuments. Two such structures stood out, though they were quite different from each other. It was widely agreed upon that both these structures are representations of the happenings and attitude of the time period they were built in. One was an immense pyramid,
stretching as high as the eye could see. Whether its purpose was tribute, worship, or sacrifice, no one could know.
The other structure was much smaller and radiated an aura of warmth and comfort. Scholars still fiercely argue the purpose of this structure, but many claim it was once a gazebo, though no one has yet come up with a reason for a gazebo existing in a frozen wasteland.
Both were majestic in their own way, though the pyramid definitely had the better view.
(so long as you don't mind melted dwarf statues)
However, all scholars agree that Syrupleaf will forever by known for its most popular monument, one that can be seen for many miles across the glacier. The staircase to reach the top of the monument has long since collapsed, and the lever and mechanisms tied to its movement have frozen in place.
Syrupleaf was beset by every type of foe, from sand raiders to frost giants to horrific abominations spawned from the she-devil Holistic herself. It must have felt as if the world was giving them a big "Fuck You", so it was all they could do to return the favor, though in a much more symbolic way than their ancestors in the fabled Boatmurdered.
Many people who hear the legend of Syrupleaf like to joke that it's a shame the monument froze into place in the "downward" position, for it was no more flipping off the lands. Those who had thought this would have changed their minds if they had seen the world from the monument.
Every day the sun would cast down a great shadow from the tower, magnifying the rude gesture on the snow below and emphasizing its message. Is it gesturing to the glacier itself, the many enemies that would be caught under the shadow during times of siege, or perhaps the very world itself? It is not known, not to modern scholars anyways.
As the sun sets on Syrupleaf, as it reaches its twilight hour, the strength of the curse does not wane. Instead, the middle finger seems to grow gigantically, its shadow stretching across the snow covered lands for miles.
This monument embodied all of Syrupleaf, symbolizing both its life and its death; the fortress did not go quietly into the night. Indeed, it roared in defiance, challenging the darkness to claim it and cursing all those that the ever growing shadow touched. An honorable final chapter, a true warrior's death so that they may be welcomed in Dwarfhalla.
But in the end...the night must always come, even for great fortresses such as this. The sun will set, snuffing out the candle of the world.