|Flora and Fauna|
Also titled the Continent of Eternal Winters, Jorrhildr is a harsh, bleak landscape that lines the northern edge of the Atlar Sea. It is both beautiful and deadly, with mile after mile of winter tundra that seems to go on until the horizon that is only disrupted by the occasional snowdrift or cluster of pine trees. Eight months of the year, it is frozen over in one of the harshest winters of the world, while during the other four the snow melts enough for the locals to gather supplies for the next winter. Most historical knowledge of Jorrhildr comes from accounts of early Ailor settlers, who arrived several centuries before the Cataclysm. There has been little evidence discovered of the Seraph in the icy continent, despite legends of ancient treasure troves, and due to the nomadic culture of the resident Ur and Thylan, there are few written records. The few Ailor migrants to the region have adapted to the unforgiving landscape survive in small tribal communities.
There are very few records of the Seraph civilization in Jorrhildr. However, sites outside of Jorrhildr have given historians brief snippets of information about what secrets may be buried deep under the snow. Various records have alluded to a huge catacomb hidden beneath the mountains of Jorrhildr. The sites are rumored to be massive crypt structures, though no archeological evidence has ever been discovered, despite multiple attempts at it. The frozen permafrost and rocky soil have made it too difficult to dig, and various Regalian organizations have tried and failed at finding them. This however has not stopped archeologists from discovering other secrets about Jorrhildr’s past.
The earliest records of Jorrhildr come from the Urs who tell stories from before the Ailor arrived. However, there are few written records among the Urs due to their nomadic culture, and as such there are little records beyond simple names and events with large gaps between them. Most historians agree, however, that the Ur were the first to walk the ice continent, with a shared belief that the water between the islands used to be solid ice. This allowed the Ur to migrate between islands with greater ease, which then were separated as winters became harsher. This has been attributed to the diversity in colors among the Ur, with the different groups who separated for several generations developing variations in fur types and culture. Early Ailor who came to Jorrhildr would become the Novilyud that are known today. These Ailor stayed mostly on one island, and ventured interior only in pursuit of wild game. The Thylan were first spotted on the surface by Ur scouts nearly a century before the Cataclysm. Historians are unsure of what caused them to start leaving their original home underground, and often theorize about internal conflict or the population becoming too large to sustain. Others believe that the abundance of Frosthorn in the region forced them to flee from subterranean habitats. The Thylan pushed their way outwards from the eastern forests, and began squatting on lands that the Ur had long traditionally held. This was the beginning of the ancient conflicts between the Ur and the Thylan.
Despite all odds being against them, the hardy people of Jorrhildr were able to survive the Cataclysm. Around this time, one of the larger islands of eastern Jorrhildr was shaken and was swallowed up by the sea. This event pushed the Novilyud Ailor even further into the tundra as they fled the destruction, and has been associated with their drastic changes towards savagery and cannibalism. The Ur-Thylan conflict reached its peak during the second century AC, with armed excursions being used by both sides in an attempt to push the opposing race back out of the shared territory. These skirmishes occurred off and on for the next century, and still continue to this day, reflecting the unchanging nature of the continent and her people.
Today’s Jorrhildr reflects the same traditions and values as centuries before. Within the past few decades, Jorrhildr has seen the birth of three new nations: the Ursula Federacy, the Koari Federation, and the Clan of Nozhi. All three are the results of the various populations banding together to better defend themselves and their interests. The Urs of the Ursula Federacy and the Thylan of the Koari Federation have not given up on their aggressive nature towards each other, and skirmishes still occur when the two groups infringe on each other’s territory, but now on larger scales. Meanwhile the Novilyud tribes are slowly being eaten by the Clan of Nozhi, which is attempting to claim a small portion of the tundra to eek out a bleak existence. More recently, several small settlements have been settled on the coast by nearby Isldar, who are hoping to escape persecution in Ellador. They have kept to themselves and do not engage with the other groups of the continent. Jorrhildr has remained a continent of people who look inwards, remaining neutral in conflicts between the Regalian Empire and other nations of the world that have occurred in the past years.
Jorrhildr is located north of the Regalian Archipelago, across the Atlar Sea. To the northeast sits the frosty lands of Ellador, and further still is The Great Northerne Expanse. To the south of Jorrhildr is the continent of the Three Skags, which has had a rocky relationship with the nation states of Jorrhildr. The continent is comprised of two main climate regions; arctic tundra and ancient boreal forest. The arctic tundra can be found largely in the western plains of the continent, which consist of miles of near-flat frozen land with the occasional hill and pine tree cluster. The boreal forests dominate the eastern parts of the continent, and has some smaller rolling hills.
The arctic tundras of western Jorrhildr are relatively stable, but give way to cliffs in the north as they reach the ocean. The land is an elevated plateau, that receives a thick layer of snow ten months of the year. The soil is relatively rocky on the interior, with rivers having more loam than is usual. The land is speckled with small clusters of pine trees that often act as landmarks for the migrating Urs. The northwestern shoreline is commonly known as the Red Coast.This area has a large amount of iron in the soil, which is picked up by the various streams of the area and turns the water red. The region is also home to a number of waterfalls. Other traditional landmarks include the tree ring known as Seven Pines, which is a cluster of exactly seven trees located atop one of the few elevated areas in the tundra.
As one moves east, they leave the high tundras and enter into the boreal forests. This region features similar cliffs on the northern shore as the tundra. The old growth forest here is comprised of largely coniferous trees, along with low growing shrubs such as Ogrebait and various berry bushes. There are occasional hills; the tallest being a large hill dubbed “Snowmount” by locals. The hill is relatively clear of trees, and can offer delightful sweeping views across the forest. The woods are also home to a number of rivers, with the most prevalent being the Gunjah River that flows from a number of springs around Snowmount, and exits into the Atlar Sea to the south.
Being frozen for a good portion of the year has had a limiting effect on the flora of Jorrhildr. The boreal forest is the most diverse area In terms of plantlife. Here, one can find various coniferous trees, cotton grass, and a large variety of mosses and lichens growing under the snow. Due to the acidic nature of the soil, food crops struggle to make it past saplings. Luckily, berry bushes are common, and are often utilized by locals as a food source. Local Novilyud tribes have been known to create a dessert dish called Tval Mask from soapberries—which are prevalent in the boreal forest—and raspberries by mashing the two together and eating the paste. The Western Tundra is home to far fewer varieties of plants; most vegetation found are lichens and mosses that survive buried under the winter snow. Occasional clusters of coniferous trees are located across the tundra, and often serve as landmarks for traveling Ur clans.
Jorrhildr is home to a very diverse collection of fauna. Many species that call Jorrhildr home also live on Ellador due to the similarities between the two continents. Biologists believe this is due to the sea separating the two freezing over, allowing animals from both continents to travel freely between the two. A majority of the animals of Jorrhildr stick to the eastern boreal forests of the continent, with herbivores surviving off of the short grasses that can be found among the trees. The most common animals include the Northern Moose, the Northern Wolf, the Dire Wolf, and the Candle Mouse. The Northern Moose is one of the most iconic symbols of Jorrhildr, and is revered by locals for all the resources it brings to them. They are often found in large herds, migrating around the continent with the seasons. Also found across the entire continent is the Antelabbit, which is feared by locals for its cute, yet deadly, form. Finally, the Frosthorn, a terrible monster of a animal, lives in all parts of Jorrhildr. These fearsome beasts are one of the deadliest hunters on the ice fields, often burrowing into snowbanks to surprise unknowing prey.
Politics and Demographics
There are three main political entities in Jorrhildr, two of which have had a constant state of aggression for the past few centuries. The largest of the three is the Ursula Federacy, which dominates the westernmost islands of Jorrhildr. It is a loose federation of Ur clans, with a semi-permanent base of operations located in the Red Coast region. The Federacy holds neutral ties with the nearby kingdoms, and only faces conflicts with the Thylan of the Koari Federation that dominate the eastern boreal forests of the continent over resources. The Federation has neutral relations with most foreign powers, but takes aggressive actions against both the Ur and any nearby Ailor. However, they only attack Ailor who attempt to encroach on their land, and overall keep to friendly relations in other situations. The third group is a larger clan of Novilyud Ailor that have taken to calling themselves the Clan of Nozhi. It is a larger tribe that has taken over several nearby clans in an attempt to deter Ur orThylan attacks. In addition, the Regalian Empire has settled a colony on the frozen shore, which serves as a penal colony for criminals. Finally, other than the major nations, there are numerous smaller, independent tribes of Ur, Thylan, and Novilyud Ailor that can be found dotted across the continent.
The Red Coast
The Red Coast is the capital region of the Ursula Confederacy, if it can even be called a capital. The region is home to the only semi-permanent settlement of the Ur, and serves as the summer living grounds for a great deal of Ur clans. Streams that run through the coastline spanning from the glacier moraine of Pilgrim’s Ledge to the petrel rookery of Round Island, two major landmarks of the region, are stained a rusty ochre due to iron oxidation. In places these waterways tumble from the tundra over sheer cliffs to the sea, creating copper colored waterfalls.
Fort Ruedin is a Regalian fort located on the southern coast of Jorrhildr, and serves as a penitentiary for those who have been declared unfit to rejoin society. The fortress stands on the edge of an ice sheet, and is a simple stone building where the unpardonable criminals are sentenced to. Beneath it are several subterranean tunnels where the few guards that man the post survive. The fort is often considered one of the worst postings in the Regalian Empire, and is designated to soldiers who have acted out or need to be taken out of the public eye for a time. Most guards serve a year term before being allowed to be rotated. Meanwhile, the prisoners who stay here are often kept until death, a sentence that often ends sooner rather than later due to the arctic conditions.
The Great Rift of Vladislav
A place spoken of only in hushed whispers, the Great Rift has earned a reputation as one of the deadliest places in the North, and is home to an uncountable number of Frosthorns. The crater itself was created long before the Cataclysm, when a meteorite struck the surface, leaving behind a miles wide gap. It is a region that the Ur do not travel to, and the Ursula Federacy has actively stationed guards around it, only to warn travellers to turn back. The Great Rift is home to the largest population of Frosthorns in the world, and is believed to be their main breeding grounds. However, rumors often circle among the Ur of glossy, purple metal that rests in the heart of the crater, claiming that the Starris that came down with the original impact is still resting for any brave soul who can traverse the death trap.
- Despite the frozen exterior, Jorrhildr is rumored to contain some of the richest diamond veins in the known world. Prospectors have managed to find small diamonds just by sifting at the various rivers and streams in the Ursula Federacy, though often at the cost of their fingers to frostbite.
- Jorrhildr is made up of several islands, but due to the frigid nature of the continent, the seas are nearly always covered in a thick coat of ice which can be traversed.
- The Red Coast region is called such due to the natural springs in the area having a high concentration of iron, tinting the water red. In the springtime, the beaches often are covered in blood red water flowing down into the sea.