Svalbard, one of the most northerly places on Earth, is one of the strongholds of the dwarves (along with Greenland), and is not often opened to outsiders. It is not part of the Meritocratic lands, but does trade with them, particularly seeds from its vault. The main settlement of Svalbard appears to share its name with the island, but is also known as The Vault, and is a dwarven city.
(There are spoilers for the rest of the show beyond this point.)
Svalbardian society is considered to be insular from outsiders, and few if any non-dwarves are known to live there. The main city is ruled by a council, headed by a leader who takes on the honorary title-surname 'Iornsson', approximately translating to 'Son of Iron', or 'Born of the Iron' (it is not clear if female or nonbinary leaders exist, and whether the surname ending would change in this case). Although leadership is technically democratic, there are family dynasties that tend to end up with their members in charge more often than not, and they form a nobility of sorts.
The party first considers going to Svalbard when Mendel is unable to identify the metal seed in episode 24. The party plans and executes a mission to Svalbard after learning of its significance from Shoin. They attempt to fly there in an airship, but ultimately crash, and are sidetracked. In episode 185, the party comes across hundreds of petrified dwarves that have been transported by portal to the Garden of Yerlik. They are mostly wearing indoor clothes, apart from some who are in battle dress, and the party recognises them to be some of the central council members in the main city on Svalbard. The party wonders if the portal opened directly in the main council chambers. It seems that this might have been a deliberate attack on the ruling council of the city, although it is not clear why. In episode 196, the party learns that Svalbard is apparently abandoned, dead, and guarded by infected corpses.
NPCs connected to Svalbard
- Iofur Iornsson: The Dwarven leader of Svalbard. Currently petrified in the Garden of Yerlik.
- Zhugi Brightheart: A Dwarven paladin of Aphrodite who encouraged Azu to become a paladin. She was lost at sea, but still has family on Svalbard.
- Friedrich: A Dwarven sailor who is originally from Germany but now considers Svalbard his home.
- Garten and the Cult of Hephaestos: Garten is a cleric of Hephaestos whom Grizzop commissions to build part of a killswitch for the Simulacrum. After the 18-month timeskip, the party learns that he, and the rest of the Damascus chapter of the cult, have withdrawn to Svalbard.
Locations within Svalbard
The seed vault
Svalbard is home to a vast seed vault, and the inhabitants of the realm are known to trade seeds with Meritocratic lands. In episode 24, when The Rangers show their metal seed to Mendel, he suggests that they should take the seed to the Svalbard seed vault to get it examined there, since it's not something he has seen before.
The Gates of Svalbard
In episode 157, Shoin draws the fissure at the Gates of Svalbard, and with each repetition of the drawing, the fissure is larger and darker, taking on the shape of the metal seed. Apparently the gates are in what looks like a barren mine.
In episode 196, the party arrives at the Gates of Svalbard. The gates are in an open-topped cave of unworked stone and earth with a floor of interwoven designs. A huge (35 x 200 ft, or 10.5 x 61 m) bridge flanked by two small towers stretches out over an apparently bottomless chasm, leading to a defensive fortress built into the rock and ice. In the fortress are two balconies looking out over each side of the bridge. The fortress is protected by wardings, and is designed to keep intruders out rather than keep people in. When the party encounters the entrance in episode 196, the balconies have been taken over by plants that have sprung from corpses.