Elo-alria is a northern region located in the frozen plains known as Achtur, an expanse of frozen wasteland in the west. It remained largely not inhabited during most of of Taerel's recorded history, as it presides over an extremely hostile and unwelcoming environment. In the modern age, however, interest in the area would soar, and zu'aan communities would begin migrating to the site en masse, in what would eventually culminate in one of the most densely populated regions in Taerel. To best explain the relationship between zu'aan civilization and Elo-aria, let's take a look at the earliest records that show zu'aan presence in the area, dated as far back as the Copper Age.
Due to its extreme cold, Elo-aria happens to be the perfect location to preserve bodies of animals, plants, and people during ages, without decomposing. It is believed that the large frozen lakes that have presently become the staple of the region were not initially frozen, and instead went through a yearly cycle of partial thawing and freezing, before turning completely to ice. This has caused a great number of bodies to sink to the depths and become frozen in the ice, and the area has gained modern popularity in the fields of anthropology and archeology, as it resides within one of the most well preserved group of specimens in the entire planet. In any case, the 'records' that show the presence of nomad zu'aan tribes are simply bodies that have been recovered from the ice, which can be more or less accurately dated to that period.
Furthermore, bodies have been found that preceed Taerel's recorded history, as well as bodies from the Copper through the Middle Ages, in varying degrees of preservation. Despite this, none of these corpses were part of permanent communities in the region, since the area was one of harsh survival. They likely belonged to pilgrims attempting to cross the continentally isolated tundras in the east over to the warmer lands in the west. Interest in colonizing the area began towards the very start of the third era, by researchers and scholars alike. There were also groups with spiritual and religious motivations that believed that certain relics and relevant resources were buried within the ice, and while some of them opposed the excursions, there was a great deal of fervor towards uncovering the secrets lying in these lands.
Many facilities were built in the area, stocked with heavy industrial equipment made for digging inside the ice lakes, and efforts were made to make these camps entirely self sufficient, as trekking the ice every time specific resources were needed was an expensive and dangerous effort. Everything changed, however, when a war broke out in the surrounding east and western nations. The east was an isolated bit of land with nowhere to go, and a slightly more agreeable climate, and the west turned into a violent and all out conflict that left every little nation at danger. So the northernmost communities were left with no choice but to run away towards the east, and while many of them made it there, eventual crowding caused a great deal of them to remain in Elo-alria.
It was only a matter of time then, as the war continued for decades, that these refugees would, aided by nations in the south, build civilization.
Elo-alria is a great expanse of frozen land, defined as the region where three giant lakes, the Ika, Yufu, and Ruha, meet. These lakes, which are very similar in size and structure, are completely frozen over and allow for being walked on easily. Each of them comprises an area of 20,929, 53,028, and 32,120 square kilometers, respectively. Combined with the reaches of land in between them, this makes Elo-alria approximately 148,029 square kilometers in size. The area is spread almost evenly across a puddle like shape, in the middle of the larger, frozen wasteland known as Achtur. It does not border on the ocean, and it has no rivers. The lakes, however, connect directly to the sea through a series of deep underground tunnels.
While the lakes are frozen at the surface, with a thick ice sheet that can withstand many tons of pressure before so much as cracking. These lakes have varying depths, with chasms and trenches that can reach down to nearly 2 kilometers below the surface, though the average depth of the three lakes is fixed at about 267 meters, in topographical terms. The lakes never directly touch each other, but their banks are very close together, so much that geologists have long theorized that they used to be once the same lake, and some kind of natural phenomena, such as an earthquake or heavy snowfall, caused a segment in the earth. Research seems inconclusive, however, and the three lakes have never shown to interact with one another even at sea depths, even though they do connect to the ocean.
Because of their ocean connections, two of the lakes are actually salt water, while the northern most lake is made of freshwater. Because they are only frozen at the surface, they host a great diversity of sea life, especially in the southern lakes, which have a deep and complex underwater cave system, complete with sprawling coral reefs along the southern coast and within the earth. The climate is dry and extremely cold, as expected. There is no rain here, since there is no evaporation, and what clouds drift from the south end up in heavy snowfalls that last the entire year, and are especially prominent in summer and spring.
Because of its closure to the northern pole of the planet, Elo-alria suffers from daylight seasonal changes, in the sense that during the cold seasons, winter and autumn, the sun is almost completely down and the day only lasts an hour or two, and during the so called warm seasons, summer and spring, the sun is always in the sky, and only goes down a few hours per night. Technically speaking, there is no spring or autumn in here, as the extreme cold temperatures only allow for summer and winter, but flora naturally follows these 4 seasons and so they are accounted for. Strong winds are sometimes an occurence, but overall the area is tame, when compared to other extreme areas of cold.
The lake formations seem to protect the biome a little, for what it's worth.
There is little native plant life in Elo-alria, due to the extreme nature of the habitat. Most of it is either within the buildings specifically built to sustain crops and other useful flora, or deep within the frozen lakes. Here are some examples of native plant wilderness: Ourani, a pale blue variant of kelp that grows within the waters of the two southern lakes. It is not a very large plant, growing only up to 2 or 3 meters in height. They grow in proximity to one another and form an interconnected net of symbiotic relationships with each other, in little habitats known as ourani reefs. These can be home to many species of small and medium sized fish, as well as shellfish and crustaceans.
It is believed that they propagated themselves inside the frozen lakes via the tunnels which reach out into the sea. Pre-Awakening Age scouting missions have revealed that they're all over these tunnels, all the way until the ocean floor, where they appear to be larger and form bigger communities. They are slightly bioluminiscent, in theory to be able to attract many species of fauna which help it thrive, and this provides a great advantage to divers that dare enter the cold and dark waters. Sunlight can only reach 200 metes underneath the water line, and the thick ice sheets bring that up to less than half. So having these vaguely glowing mini forests at the bottom is immensily helpful as a bookmark and as an indication for the existence of wildlife, which is often collected in order to eat or study.
As of the Awakening Age, of course, these diving expeditions have become nothing short of deadly, and they are not able to be performed any longer. The plant can be eaten after drying it out, and was commonly used as an culinary ingredient, though sparsely, before the kin'toni outbreak. There are a few remaining specimens in select aquariums throughout the facilities of Elo-alria, and these have been used, also sparsely, by the resident zu'aan. Anean, a bright yellow deep ocean flower that has founds its way to the caves that lead to Elo-alria and formed a natural regional cultivar. While it's deep ocean variant was known as a rare mountain flower that grew in underwater mountainous regions, this particular cultivar is thought to have come to the lakes of Elo-alria via the currents that lead into its caves, and has grown over the years to be quite different from its oceanic variant.
Notably, this plant is not only found in the two separate southern lakes, it is also found in the northern freshwater lake. How exactly the plant made its way there is unknown. It is theorized that due to breaching of the ice layers by zu'aan, for fishing purposes or otherwise, the plant was able to somehow make its way there. However this does not explain how it was able to propagate in fresh water, since it is supposed to be a saltwater plant. It is also theorized that zu'aan somehow managed to introduce it into that habitat, and the records were simply lost. The saltwater version of the plant is consistent of a bright yellow flower with a short blue stem. It's oceanic version is typically found in orange and red colors around coral reefs, however this version prefers to be isolated from other plants, and will be found scarcely around the lake.
It is very bright but it is not bioluminous. It is however reflective of light. The northern freshwater version is almost the same as the southern saltwater version; it is however of a slightly duller color and seems to prefer to form small communities instead of staying isolated. It's cell tissue is also of a different chemical composition of those found in saltwater likely specifically adapted to survive in the freshwater environment. This seems to support the theory they were introduced to the freshwater lake artificially by zu'aan. The plant is not edible, but its ability to reflect light off flashlights makes it a somewhat useful indicator of space.
Animal life in Elo-alria is mainly aquatic, due to the harsh conditions on the surface. There are, however, some exceptions. Here is an example of a local specimen that can been in the frozen wasteland: Maa'ue, a large bovine creature with black fur and enormous curved horns. They are known to come to the plains of Elo-alria on their migratory routes in search of food, and remain there for most of the year. They are very large mammals with four legs and two very large horns, which leave the side of their heads and curve back almost fully. Their fur is entirely black, supposedly to help with absorbing heat more efficiently. It also seems to have an adverse effect on possible predators.
Notably, despite their appearance in biological terms, they are omnivores, as they ingest both meat and plants, and one would find that their digestive tracks and mandibules are well adapted for this diet. They come from the north, which is known to have a significantly harsher climate then the frozen wastelands of Elo-alria. They spend winter there, hibernating, and come out in early spring. Slowly they make their way to Elo-alria, where they remain until late autumn before coming back to the north to hibernate. They seem to prefer cold environments and do not seem to be attracted by the warmer planes in the west. The reason for this is thought to be an evolutionary trait made specifically to keep them in this region, which could have happened for a multitude of purposes.
They have large strong hooves, which they use to penetrate the ice of the frozen lakes, exerting extraneous amounts if body pressure onto the ice sheets in order to break them. They will use this for their advantage while hunting. They hunt in packs, and will force their prey to seek cover within the ice lakes, surrounding them from all sides. They will then start pounding the ground around them and start breaking the ice sheets, forcing their victim to either run to them, at which point they have no chance of survival, or making them drown in the icy waters. Their bodies are covered in a viscous substance that happens to be buoyant and allows them to float and swim in case their victim fails to escape and drowns in the water.
In this case, they will quickly retrieve the body before it sinks, wether alive or dead. While they can be seen eating shrubs and grass, they are very aggressive and prefer hunting. If they meet a zu'aan in the wild they will not hesitate in trying to kill it. The maa'ue is therefore a very dangerous creature that should not be faced alone in any circumstance. The males and females have little difference, with the females being slightly larger. They mate around early summer and have progeny just before the hibernation periods. They are edible, but hunting them in the post apocalyptic era, when weapons are scarce and medical care is few, is generally not recommended.
They seem to have taken notice that zu'aan are not as well guarded now as they were before, and they have become very aggressive to them. They tend to hang around the northern lake, a region zu'aan try to avoid.