Miryh’fa Frozen Forest is a cold place. Sitting in the far north, it is covered in frost from the tip of its tallest tree to the soil on the ground. The forest has always been frozen, for as long as its history has been recorded. As most places with harsh environments, zu’aan adapted as best as they could. This forest has never been one for the weak willed. While there have been some that have not been able to stick it out, the forest has a history of mostly strong zu’aan settlements. The zu’aan of Oldtia City is one of those. Escaping from the violent hordes of kin’toni, a group of zu’aan travelled north. They believed that the extremely cold environment would keep the kin’toni away, or at the very least could slow them down.
Many died on their journey as the temperature continued to drop the further north they went. Their bodies shut down as they weren’t used to such cold. Most had never even seen snow, let alone temperatures as low as this. Over the course of their journey, slowly, they got used to it. They hunted animals that could give them warm pelts, though this was incredibly difficult. The frigid cold numbed their fingers, making it hard for them to grasp their weapons. The cold wind made them shiver as it cut against any bare skin. The sun shining down on the white snow obscured their vision, and actually permanently blinded some. They found caves that could block out the cold, chilly wind.
But, some of these caves were occupied by large, territorial animals that attacked them. It was a tough journey that seemed never ending. But eventually, they found Miryh’fa Frozen Forest. Many zu’aan, over the course of its history, have called this place a frozen forest of hell. With wind that seemed to cut and ice that seemed to burn, it was an accurate name. Without proper precautions, it's quite easy to freeze to death. The animal life seemed more aggressive as well. Large animals seemed to inhabit every part of the forest. They also couldn’t properly farm due to the hard and frozen ground. They had to make due with the native plant life there, some of which was inedible or hard to harvest due to the frost.
Other zu’aan settlements were too far, when compared to their conditions and current resources, to travel towards to get any aid. This is not to say that everything was hard. They were able to store meat for long periods of time in parts of the ground they were able to dig in. Due to how cold the ground was, they didn’t have to worry about their meat spoiling too quickly. With the large population of large animals, they were able to precure a good quantity of meat. Thanks to the rivers not freezing over, they had a viable water source. But, temperatures are continuing to drop as a new ice age approaches. While the forest isn’t at the furthest northern point, it has started seeing a change.
Miryh’fa Frozen Forest is a dense forest that spans almost 1,000 square kilometers towards the north. It forms an almost crescent shape around a small plateau, creeping up the sides of it. Ice creeps up the side of the plateau, making it a dangerous place to try to navigate through. Iryh, its largest river, sits at its southern border. It wraps around most of that border before cutting through the forest close to its western border and coming out at its north. The climate is extremely cold, constantly staying at below zero temperatures. The summer, while it technically happens, can’t really be considered summer. Temperatures may rise to twenty degrees, but never above that.
Winters are colder than any other season. Temperatures can drop several dozen degrees below zero. With how cold it is, rain instantly turns to snow and falls year round. There are days where snow doesn’t fall, but those days are far and few between. While the snowfall is usually calm and soft, harsh blizzards occur often enough to be common. During these blizzards, travel becomes extremely dangerous as temperatures drop even more and the wind becomes even more cutting. Frostbite is a huge worry for the zu’aan, especially during blizzards. Frost, snow, and ice are constant factors in the forest. It covers the trees, hardens the ground, and clings to the skin of zu’aan, plants, and animals.
There are some spots on the ground that are so hard and frozen that it is almost impossible to dig, even with tools. Surprisingly, there are flowing, even rushing, rivers throughout the forests. No matter how cold it gets, they don’t freeze over. Cold steam rises from the rivers as they crash against the edges of the riverbed. Despite the frozen ground, hundreds of trees have stretched up nearly a hundred feet high. Plant life, dependent on frost and ice, are all around the forest floor and high up in the trees. There are animals that are able to burrow into the ground, making their homes underneath. These areas are usually where the sun is able to shine down on directly, as these spots are softer.
The ground within the city is even softer and warmer than outside. The zu’aan keep fires all around the city going all day and all night long to keep the ground from freezing. There are also areas that the zu’aan call “freeze zones.” These zones are under the shadows of trees, where the light of the sun can’t reach. Some of them stretch for several miles and are usually found further towards the northern part of the forest. These zones are extremely dangerous to both zu’aan and animals. They are even colder than the rest of the forest and contracting frostbite is certain. Nothing is able to grow here due to lack of sun. Navigating through the terrain of the forest is quite difficult, especially to newcomers.
The iced grounds can be slippery, especially on inclines. There are places where the snow piles up several feet, sometimes hiding the frozen roots of trees sticking out of the ground. When the sun is high in the sky, its light bounces off of the snow. This can easily cause both temporary and permanent blindness if no eye protection is worn.
Plant life is scarce in the forest. Due to the cold climate and hard, frozen ground, very little plants grow. The few that do grow here can only be found in places like this. They’ve gone through a natural evolution that allows them to push up through the hard ground, grow on the frost covered bark of trees, and cling to the edges of the few running rivers within the forest. Some of them even depend on frost and ice to thrive. Airort, or frosted blossoms, usually grows in place of extreme cold. They aren’t native to Miryh’fa Frozen Forest as they thrive in places of frost, soaking in the moisture. This wide, funnel shaped flower is a pale, frosted blue that sits in the middle of five big white leaves.
Just one of its petals is almost the size of an adult zu’aan male’s palm. A thin layer of frost covers its petals and its leaves. They grow close to the ground and stay in bloom for most of the year. This flower, save for its short stem and roots, is edible. Both the flower and its leaves can be eaten raw. They have a sweet taste to them. Many children love to soak them in water to make a sweet frozen treat. It has no medicinal benefits. Hium fruit trees are one of the few fruit bearing trees in the forest. They have a large population and grow all around the forest, but they are also one of the shortest trees, only growing to eight feet. But they are thick in width, with a diameter of almost five feet.
Its bark is white with pale gray spots. Its branches hang low due to the weight of the fruit. The fruit itself is about the size of an average palm and hangs from its stem with a bell-like shape that flares out with a closed bottom. The shape has caused some to nickname this fruit, bell fruit. It has a dark purple outer layer that is hard and tough to protect itself from the frost. Beneath the outer layer lies a light purple fruit with small black, edible seeds spread throughout. It gives off a sweet smell and has a sweet, but also slightly sour taste to it. The small, black circle pit in the center is inedible. One of the most notable plants within the forest is the echruin.
This white, bowl shaped flower grows on thick stems on bushes throughout the forest. The tip of its petals meet at a sharp point, flaring outward. There are quite a few uses that this flower has. Its petals can be eaten raw to help with fevers or can be steeped to ease stomach aches. There is a thick gel insincere of the stem that can be used to help slow the progress of frostbite. It helps to warm the skin. The leaves can be used as wrapping to help stop infection of wounds. Its natural antibiotics seep into the wound to fight bacteria. Even animals go for these flowers when sick. Luckily, they have a large population and are constantly popping up throughout the season.
The majority of animals within the Miryh’fa Frozen Forest have large bodies and thick fur. It’s believed that they grew this way to adapt to and survive the frigid cold air and frozen ground. Ekross are one of the largest mammals in the forest. They grow to a shoulder height of nearly seven feet and weigh almost four hundred pounds. Though they are heavy, it is mainly muscle, making them really strong. These beasts are strong enough to completely crush a full grown zu’aan or kin’toni. They have retractable claws that have venom that can paralyze and two small, curved, white horns on their heads. Their white fur is long, wooly, and extremely thick. To help keep the wind out of their eyes, they have thick, white eyelashes.
While ekross is mostly docile, they can become really aggressive when their young are being threatened. Their population is small and females only give birth to up to three young at a time, which is why they are so protective. Their diet consists of birds and small mammals. Ekross tries to only go after docile prey that won’t put up much of a fight. They inhabit areas that are a bit more scarce with tree placements, but have been seen deeper in the forest. Boldin are a breed of fast flying birds. They have pale blue feathers that transition to white towards the ends. The feathers are thicker towards the parts that connect to the body, while they get thin further down.
Though the feathers are thin, they have several dozen layers of them. The feathers have a shaggy-like appearance. Their beaks are long, curved, and white. A small, twisted horn protrudes from the middle of their foreheads. Boldin makes their nest on the tops of high trees. Females lay up to three eggs at a time after mating season. Several nests take up the tops of a single tree as boldin have a pack like mentality. They hunt down their prey together, sharing in the kill. They can be quite vicious in their attacks. They’re diet consists of other birds, small and large mammals, and the occasional fish they scout during flight over the rivers. Irguine are one of the few rare reptilian species that inhabit the forest.
Due to the extreme cold, they live at the southernmost point of the forest, where it’s the warmest. They burrow down deeply into the ground to try to keep warm. They walk on four legs and have retractable black claws. Their hard and triangle shaped scales are a silvery white, while their vertical slitted pupils are surrounded by light blue irises. From their heads to the tip of their tails, they stretch almost a foot long, making them one of the smallest animals in the forest. They’re diets consist of flowers and fruits. Females lay nearly a hundred eggs at a time, but only about half of them survive as their scales don’t fully form until maturity a few months after they hatch.
Many freeze to death before that time. With them having originated in such a cold place, it would be hard for them to survive in warmer places further south. They’ve evolved on a biological level to be able to live in cold places.