Shardbluff Labyrinth is a region characterised by the eponymous shard-like mountains rising from the ground as if the ocean had compressed the entire Eastern continent. Long, impassable rock sections jut from the ground. Travelling via the North Sea would be faster, but for Leviathan patrolling the coast.
The region is colourless, the sky dark grey. A constant low-hanging mist slicks the angular stone surfaces. Shallow puddles lay scattered everywhere, despite no rain.
Many flying Illuvials populate this region, some incredibly powerful.
Nuls Point (Obelisk Area)
The journey through Shardbluff begins at Nuls Point. The Obelisk stands out more in this dark, blackened environment. The cracked, rocky ground surrounding the Obelisk draws the eye. Cracks so large they have become natural, concentric moats for the pearlescent spire.
The atmosphere is thick, the air salty. A disorienting rumble fills the air from all directions. Waves crash along the black cliffs, funnelling through narrow channels, culminating in misty explosions hundreds of meters into the air. Sunset provides the only colour, painting the vapour burnt orange.
Nuls Point is home to the largest living organism in Illuvium. It has adapted to absorb the scant nutrients in the Shardbluff environment and thrive. Often mistaken for multiple distinct creatures, it is singular and connected. Microscopic fibres bind it throughout every path, sometimes tunnelling through pure rock. Unable to walk, Tentifung engulfs the lowlands via ever-reaching tendrils that clutch the stone, hastening the region’s decay.
Tentifung thrives in this dark, thick atmosphere. When an Aurora lights the sky, it withdraws into the darkness, straining pillars and shards. Occasionally new pathways form, and previously unavailable climbs or descents appear. If the organism were to disappear completely, the entire region might collapse without its tendrils for support.
The result is that pathways form and collapse with every Aurora, making the area a living maze. More importantly, access is unpredictable. To the north lies an epic climb to The Panoramic. Sometimes this pathway is blocked, and instead, an underground tunnel opens, leading to Spilfelt in the east. The northern path to “The Panoramic” features a detour to Heittur. Northwest is Hullfelt, and west is The Delta. The eastern edge of Nuls Point drops away to Lera, an area of broken shards and collapsed pillars. Only through this area can one access the island of Zamia.
The highest peak of Illuvium is not a mountain but a shard of rock protruding from the ground. The steep climb from Nuls Point leads here. On the way are several unreliable intersections, some leading to dead ends, others to the areas of Heittur and Hullfelt. When a Shift closes a pathway, the only option is to use the Tentifung Ears, deep cuts into the stone caused by the organism’s recession, to bypass the blockage.
The reward for reaching the peak is a breathtaking 360° view of the entire continent, including the sea, the region, and the massive eye of the storm hanging over Crimson Waste.
The summit is unnaturally smooth, highlighted by a luminescent blue stripe against the black rock that signals an intersection with the Obelisk barrier. Not only stone is vapourised. Anything that reaches too high suffers the same fate. Looking towards the sea, one glimpses dark shapes in the water.
The Moongate, comprising several black stone pillars engulfed by Tentifung, slide to the sides when the moonlight strikes, granting entry.
An acrid stench from several vents and magma pools littering the ground fills the air. A steep path leads higher up the mountain, with massive stone pillars guiding the way, strange round holes carved into their sides.
Usually, these orange fungi cover the holes, but light reveals small passages and cave entrance behind.
Dangers come from everywhere. Lava streams snake from above, and unstable pillars crumble underfoot, causing unscheduled journeys back to Nuls Point. The sulfuric air worsens during the winding journey toward the plateau, culminating in an area filled with dense white smoke.
Underground lava tubes connect the entire Heittur area, with pools occasionally bubbling to the surface, surrounded by stone pillars. The magma vents sputter, spewing ash and thick smoke. Several fossilised Dethrows are visible, attached to the posts and walls.
Waves of heat announce the other destructive force in Shardbluff Labyrinth. An exposed magma chamber slowly eats its surroundings, the source of all pools. The heat sterilises the ground, but the Tentifung cannot gain purchased here.
West of Heittur is Hullfelt, marked by large pillars grouped atop small hills covered in Bloodmoss. Named for its deep orange hue flecked with translucent cells containing a deep vermillion ooze, Bloodmoss secretes its toxic innards under the slightest pressure. The red sludge conceals tiny crystals which violently sublimate when contacted by air. Foot travel is ill-advised.
Hollow, the entrance is at the top, allowing access to explore the crusted inner walls. The largest group is the Jamala Pillars, towering over the others. An altogether different biome to the rest of Shardbluff, these hollow pillars range in colours, some boiling hot on the inside, releasing smoke like a giant chimney.
On a lower level, South of Hullfelt and West of the Obelisk lies The Delta. The area is covered in dense fog when flooded, which frequently happens when Leviathan venture near the shore. Few standing shards remain, most having collapsed, broken by the onslaught of endless waves higher than the coastal cliffs. Waves slam over the sea walls and flood The Delta. Small caves and hidden areas beneath the rubble emerge when the water recedes.
Clammouths remain sealed for extended periods afterwards, digesting trapped meals washed in flood. While open, they are dangerous, able to engulf anything that fits. The hinges are so strong they are impossible to open without illuminating the purple ‘tongue’ with a burst of bright light that acts as a release.
Lera lies to the East of the Obelisk, down a winding path. The unstable cliffs provide no refuge from the sea. Always slippery with algae and orange mosses, a wrong step can plunge one into the deep, dark ocean below.
The brave, or foolhardy, may choose to climb lower, where you can jump towards Zamia. Climbing this far down makes one vulnerable to the powerful waves crashing into the cliffs. But with the right timing, it is possible.
This small island off the coast is only reachable from The Lera. Those brave enough to travel here must navigate the steep rocks. Beyond is a downwards sloping valley ending in rockpools filled with hundreds of floating eggs. It is yet unknown what exactly they are. A pulse of energy flows through the eggs, making musical, whale-like noises as the light pulse through them.
On the sides of the valley, several small caves provide shelter and a chance to find something that the sea has left behind before the whole island of Zamia disappears entirely with the incoming tide.
On the north side of the island, at the outer edge of the region, is a vantage point called Oblation, protected by the Obelisk dome. Leviathan often risk intersection with the barrier to devour Illuvials perched on the cliff face whole.
To the east of the Obelisk, we find a small corridor leading up to Spilfelt, an area full of Mubble’s and Ventshrooms. These giant mushroom-like structures grow in large numbers. Mubble’s tend to grow inside pillars, meaning the mushroom stem is primarily rock. The top of the post splits open to form a gigantic mushroom-like structure.
The ground in Spilfelt is different from the other areas. Thick, black mud covers the floor, likely caused by the highly sulfuric soil. In Spilfelt, the ground cracks, and large chasms form maze-like structures deep underground. The Ventshrooms release dense gas that falls, creating a mist blanket that obscures these chasms, making running very difficult.
Caution is necessary, as any shelf can crumble underneath. In most areas, the shards tower above.