|Flora and Fauna|
Jorrhildr is an icy landscape well known for its many dangers. While some in ancient Aloria were interested in it for its Seraph ruins and strange life, the region was left mostly alone. In that ancient time, the Urlan reared themselves up fully in the land before spreading out across the world and drew new attention to the continent. Jorrhildr is the perfect warrior’s training ground because of its many harsh threats, from the biting cold, to the fierce animals, to the territorial and often savage Urlan. It is also a scholar’s dream, with its many Seraph ruins and unique creatures. Unfortunately, a recent incident between a leading family of the Regalian Empire’s nobility, House Howlester, and the Urlan political body the Horned Throng has soured regional relations. Time will tell if this gets better or gets worse.
Jorrhildr is an ancient land well known for much of its history, but only insofar as it is a mysterious region. The Seraph had a clear and significant presence in the region as their ruins, while hard to spot today, were immediately found by the Allorn Empire when they ventured into the region. During that time, Jorhildr was a lightly forested plains region near Drovv territory, who the Altalar soon gained dominance over. Mages and scholars explored several of the ruins found in the region and also encountered several new animals, the most notable being the Thylan. They were crude but capable of intellect and the Altalar delighted in making them their tortured playthings and the object of experiments. Ultimately, the Empire grew bored of toying with them and their remaining populations went into hiding. But by 200 BC, the Thylan were thriving and showed a slight improvement in their mental faculties. Any progress they made was drastically changed after this period. The Urlan - newcomers to the world but determined to make their mark - and Ailor groups reached Jorrhildr. All three sides fought with and against each other until the blast of magical energy from the Isldar. Jorrhildr, immediately adjacent to Ellador and a largely flat region, was blasted in full force by the event and within days was a frigid wasteland. The Ailor and Urlan rapidly adapted; they were already used to the cold weather and simply increased their ability to heat themselves. The Thylan however, could not, and soon vanished from the surface.
Jorrhildr was then left alone by the outside world for the next 300 years. People were aware of its presence, but the harsh landscape was threatening and tales of strange beasts or cannibal Velheim abounded. In truth, the “strange beasts” were the Urlan and the Thylan, who re-emerged within a few years of the Cataclysm. As for the “cannibal Velheim,” they were nothing more than Velheim who marked their face with red and prized the hunt along with seeking out slaves. As they were untouched by outside influence, these Velheim populations became arrogant the more they interacted with the outside and grew convinced they were the oldest Velheim in the world. Visitors came, found these strange people, and promptly left. But as the Regalian Empire expanded at the beginning of the second century AC, contact was increased. The mystery of the Urlan was also unraveled as they began to spread themselves across The North Belt and then beyond, some reaching Daen while others reached Essalonia. Some had grown tired of the same old hunts and challenges and a younger generation sought to remedy this. As they spoke of their homeland they expressed scholarly interest in what were clearly Seraph ruins, but the dangers of Jorrhildr remained an obstacle. Nevertheless, near the end of the third century AC, several expeditions successfully penetrated the continent’s ice shelf. These expeditions also established Iteå under the minor Regalian Baron Lord Härterfeerland, which gave a small area of safety for travelers seeking to access the continent.
In recent years, Jorrhildr has undoubtedly increased in activity. In one of the last acts by the aged Emperor Justinian II, Urlan became first-class citizens as they were seen as an essential asset to the Regalian Military. While distrust remained, further actions under Emperor Cedromar I produced even more of an emphasis on Urlan power and of recruiting the Race or creating their own Urlan troops through Oorl Worms being inserted into ordinary soldiers. Recently though, there has been a hiccup in relations with Regalia. During a period of extreme prominence of House Howlester in the Regalian Government, a large number of their Silverwolf mercenaries were slaughtered by the Urlan’s loose political body known as the Horned Throng while the Ailor troops defending Iteå’s land claims. The event also resulted in the Throng capturing and transforming one of the members of House Howlester in a violent forced conversion ritual. Politics restored the situation to a passive level, but in 309 AC, the Throng surged again. They slaughtered and converted Iteå’s populace, forcing an intervention by an Imperial Regent who, shockingly, allowed himself and other members of the Kade family to be transformed into Urlan to appease the Urlan. These developments have left a swirl of uncertainty in the region, but the Throng appears calmed, for now. Jorrhildr, meanwhile, remains just as frigid and bitter as ever.
Jorrhildr is north-northwest of the Regalian Archipelago, northwest of Cain and west of Ellador. It borders the Narrow Ice-Bræ Gap to the northwest, and the Feerlais Ocean to the southwest. Jorrhildr, while often appearing like a single continent, is actually two separate, similar, and close-together islands. The waterway between, known as the Jorr-Ice Channel, is frequently frozen solid, at all points of the year. The eastern landmass is known as the Skarhildr Wastes, and the western landmass is known as the Jorrhildr Wastes, or “Jorrhildr proper.” The landmass as a whole is exceedingly cold and covered in tundra, with large open stretches of snow and ice for miles sitting on top of this earth across the majority of its surface. There are also mountains in Jorrhildr, but they are short and unable to properly deflect the winds which have sheared them smooth over hundreds of years. The mountains are also where many of the Seraph ruins can be found today, making them hard to reach. The mountains, however, do provide one benefit: shelter. There are many cave systems across Jorrhildr, mainly in its multiple small mountain ranges or near the coastline. The rivers and lakes that emerge from the local mountains are either frozen for most of the year or slowly flow beneath a thick covering of ice. Ice sheets fill the major bays and inlets, allowing travel by foot but also requiring anyone traveling by boat to first break the ice to proceed. It is at the fringes of Jorrhildr where most plant life also survives, huddled in inlets or bays for protection. What few forests exist out beyond these bounds are slowly dying off, either through logging by the local Races or the trees literally freezing to death. The Horned Throng is largely found on the Jorrhildr Wastes, while Skarhildr holds almost all of the Ailor population of the continent, though small enclaves of each Race exist on opposite regions. There is one third region in Jorrhildr, known as the Knusttalls, a smattering of small islands reaching northwest from the Jorrhildr Wastes. These icy rocks are not inhabited by anything more than seals and seabirds, as well as the occasional whaler and fishers.
Jorrhildr is a region most believe to be devoid of flora due to its harsh terrain. While this is mostly true, there are a few important plants which grow in hidden places and along the coastline. One of the most important is the Saaktus Flower. In a place where the Urlan come from, the plant is almost their natural enemy as if it is ingested within 48 hours of an Oorl Worm’s insertion into one’s body, the worm will be killed and then dissolved harmlessly. This cure is only known to the locals, who discovered it by accident, and those who study the higher levels of medical science. Modrá’s Root also grows in Jorrhildr, the underground plant mainly spreading in the spring when the ground somewhat thaws. This is also when it is extracted for use by both the Urlan in their body paints and by the Velheim Ailor for their tattoos. A variety of other minor plant life also exists on Jorrhildr, as well as somewhat-frozen coniferous trees.
Similarly to flora, some incorrectly believe that not much survives in the harshness of Jorrhildr. However, its snowy plains bear plenty of life, such as the lumbering giant Northern Moose. It is ancient and highly prized by hunters across the world. The region also has a number of pygmy herd animals which developed due to the limited plant life and cold climate, making many of them hairier and far stouter than their non-pygmy cousins elsewhere in Aloria. There are also less herbivorous animals, like the fierce and mysterious Frosthorn and the savage cave-dwelling Troll. But of all these animals, one of the most interesting is the Thylan. They are a near-sentient species that has gradually developed over centuries, the marsupial creatures travel in large packs for defense and are gradually beginning to learn how to use tools. While in an one on one fight the small, Dwarf or child-sized creatures are not a threat, their packs are dangerous and have been known to fell even the mightiest of Urlan. As for most disgusting animal, though still interesting, that would have to go to the Oorl Worm, the strange creature that helps create the Urlan Race. They seem resistant to extreme climates and are said to possess strange abilities, but few scholars let them get near given their capacity to completely transform their victims.
Iteå was, by Regalian standards, a mere outpost at the periphery of their vast Empire and lacking in any importance. It is found near the mouth of the Skínan River, which is filled with small flakes of Gold, helping give the fortification some purpose for existing. The fortress itself is a simple motte and bailey design. A low-lying stone wall surrounds the Regalian compound, meeting at several small towers or guard posts where archery equipment can be found for defensive purposes while a small ditch in front of the walls often gets filled with snow and is almost useless. Inside of the wall near the southern corner of the bailey sits the motte, the earthen structure mainly built with earth but also accentuated with large slabs of stone. Inside, Lord Härterfeerland lived and did his dealings with any who approached his fortress. It was also here that most of the Gold was deposited to be safely stored so it could be used for pay. Beyond the simple square motte, a number of large tents and small huts held the mercenaries and some of the outside workers the Baron had paid to help him in his enterprise. The small fort also technically includes the nearby, unnamed Velheim fishing village which hugged the coastline very closely and operates as a mooring area for any Regalian ships coming to visit. Ultimately, the outpost was recently sacked and burned, being left a husk of its former self while the populace was largely converted into Urlan or fled. As a result, the Gold gathered at this site is still technically there, the local Urlan having no interest in it, though some believe the recent Regalian response in the region has likely scooped up what valuables remained and evacuated the area permanently, abandoning the site to let it be swallowed by the snow.
The Rauður Coast is a surprising location of color in the bleak landscape of ice-blue and white Jorrhildr is known for. Stretching for a few hundred miles along the northern coastline of the Skarhildr Wastes, this area is well known for its red coloration caused by the slow rusting of the Iron deposits found there. Several rivers flow through the region, picking up this red coloration before dumping it off of high cliffs into the sea, creating copper-colored waterfalls. These cliffs themselves are also stained with patches of red. The region is also home to a small number of Urlan, who use the pigmented earth in their body paints to create a variety of shades of red. Velheim Ailor also live in the region, though only at the edges, and use the pigment to adorn themselves as well. They were once more populous but over time they have moved away or been converted into Urlan as the Race continues to grow in dominance.
Seraphona Illusio is one of the larger Seraph ruins known to exist in Jorrhildr and it is interesting for its long history. It is located near the western coastline and stands at the foot of a nearby mountain. The first to find it were the Altalar, who accessed its outer halls before a magical force forced them to retreat before they accessed the inner rooms. The Thylan came to live in the ruin’s shadow, retreating to the caves beneath it and re-emerging after the Cataclysm to dominate the surrounding area. Finally, the Urlan now dominate the area having defeated the local Thylan population and claimed the region with blood-stained hands. The structure itself is shorter than other Seraph structures, but that is likely due to its tower having tumbled down at some point in the last 200 years. Its external and even some internal surfaces are covered in vivid Urlan wall paintings of some of the local’s greatest victories. Deeper within, scholars have determined that the site is definitely a tomb due to Seraph murals of mourning and silence dominating the space. However, further progress is blocked by Magus creatures who do not allow trespassers to reach deeper into the ruin. The Urlan largely dismiss the site as “unfair” and “tricky,” believing its prey to be illusions and not worth the effort of hunting, thus giving the tomb its name.
Great Rift of Guðbjörg
A place spoken of only in hushed whispers, the Great Rift of Guðbjörg has earned a reputation as one of the deadliest places in The North Belt. The site is a crater four miles wide and a mile and a half deep, created shortly after the Cataclysm when a meteorite struck the surface of the continent which has resulted in sharp ice formations built around the shattered stone. It also revealed half a dozen cave systems, leading to their dark open entrances which further adds to the eerie look to the surrounding area. On its own, the Great Rift isn’t dangerous but the danger comes in when one considers the area is home to the largest concentration of Frosthorns in the whole of Jorrhildr. Hunters have observed at least six, but due to the cave systems most believe there to be at least ten. The site is also believed to be a breeding ground, and so there are possibly even more Frosthorns born at the site who eventually leave. This is the only location where Frosthorns live in relative unity though violent competitions do occasionally break out and due to the echoing effect of the region, send the sounds echoing for miles across the tundra. The site is also rumored to hold a large collection of foreign minerals due to the meteorite crash. The rumored sheer amount of the glossy purple metal is enough for some to brave the treacherous rift, though none have been known to return.
- Jorrhildr is said to have some rather interesting creatures frozen solid on their eastern coastline with descriptions matching those from old Allorn Empire records.
- Some theorize that Seraph ruins draw in Thylan through some form of ethereal connection. While that may be true, it is also true the mountain caves which are almost always nearby offer useful protection from the cold outside and the proximity of one to the other is unrelated.
- Oorl Worms are said to be able to control the minds of lesser animals and induce insanity in those near them, but these superstitions mainly stem from the locals attempting to dissuade people from giving in and allowing themselves to be infested.