Reaching Ormik Ice Plains was a taxing accomplishment. Cold, cutting winds and blinding blizzards were normal the further north one went. Over its history, most of those who settled on the plains were of strong constitutions. They had no choice but to strengthen their wills and adapt to the cold. Those who survived the north were like warriors who could face anything. Of course, there were those who couldn’t stick it out. The cold, the lack of food, and the isolation were too much for them. They either scurried quickly to the south, or died out there within the first few years of settling. Those who did survive were able to proudly carve out their spot in history.
Broird City was one such settlement. Fleeing the kin’toni hordes, they seeked refuge north like many others. When they got to the plains, they had expected to have to fight over it. They’d heard many tales and rumors on their journey of zu’aan clashing over territory. But when they arrived, no one tried to fight against them. They simply saw remnants of a previous settlement. The only “enemy” they had to face, other than the kin’toni, was the cold. Like with many of the northern regions, the cold was a cause for worry. With temperatures easily dropping into the negatives, the zu’aan knew it wouldn’t be an easy place to settle down. But, they would rather face that than the kin’toni.
Lucky for them, they were able to successfully adapt to the plains after a few years. They discovered ways to combat the cold and frostbite. While they couldn’t secure an abundance of food, they could still survive off of the animals and plants that they did find. In the winter, the cold kept the fighting between the kin’toni down, especially during the blizzards. Since the land was so flat, traveling through it to gather resources was achievable. They also, to a certain extent, like the isolation. While they were on the run, they had run into several zu’aan tribes that seemed to have lost their morality and their minds. Some of them attacked without provocation, some wanted to steal from them, and some just wanted to spill blood.
So, the isolation they found in the plains was a welcome change. But not everything was easy for them. In those first few years, many would freeze to death or lose fingers, toes, and other limbs due to frostbite. Starvation was another cause of death during that time. It was hard to find viable food sources, especially with how weak they were from traveling. They still had to worry about the kin’toni in the summer, when the air warmed up and the blizzards stopped. A lot of the larger animals would come back during the summer, some of which could be aggressive. Cultivating the land was hard due to the almost year round ice covering the ground. They had to travel to other regions to get resources that would allow them to build a wall around their city. But, in the end, they persevered.
Ormik Ice Plains is a flat expanse of mostly treeless land that has very small elevations. It spans roughly 1,000 square kilometers. The plains are almost constantly covered in ice. Even the few trees that grow are covered in ice. For a bit during the summer, the ice melts a little, but not completely. It has a tundra climate with temperatures staying cold almost year round. Summers can get warm, but it barely rises above the mid-fifties both during the daytime and the ght. Winters can easilyni drop to below zero, especially in the winter. The temperature doesn’t really rise higher than the low thirties during winter days and can drop to the negatives at night. Summers are much shorter than winters.
Snow and blizzards happen often. The blizzards are dangerous due to the cutting wind, the several dozen below zero degrees temperatures, and the obscured vision. Obscured vision comes from both the amount of snow falling and the sun’s reflection on the white snow. There are zu’aan who have gone blind due to this. Frostbite is another one of the major concerns for the zu’aan. If not properly covered during blizzards, nearly instant frostbite is possible. Due to the ice and frigid temperatures, vegetation is sparse. Hardly anything can grow. With that being said, there are a few plants that actually thrive in areas like this, that can only grow in areas like this.
There is also a sparse population of animals. Those that do inhabit the plains have characteristics that allow them to combat the cold. Thick fur, thick muscles, or the ability to burrow into the ground. Or they just have a natural immunity to the cold. There is a small lake towards its southern border that freezes over for part of the winter. It spans about five square kilometers with a depth of twenty feet. It houses a small variety of aquatic animals and plant life. The ice that covers the lake can reach a thickness of three inches. It’s perfect for zu’aan to skate across, though it’s best to do so around the middle of winter. The ice is too thin in the beginning and starts to melt around the end of winter.
The temperature of the water can reach the negatives in the winter and around twenty degrees in the summer. While most of the aquatic animals in the lake are active year round, there are some that enter into a hibernation of sorts when the lake freezes. Some burrow into the sand at the bottom of the lake before going dormant and others move about at a slower rate. They “awaken” once the ice thaws. The zu’aan built Broird City as far south of the plains as they could. Their walls are made of wood from places to the south of them as very few trees grow in Ormik, and they didn’t have the tools to break through the ice. They wanted to kind of squeeze together to conserve heat.
Due to the freezing cold temperatures and hard, iced ground, vegetation is sparse. There are flowers that can grow and actually thrive in such environments though. Flowers can be spotted here and there, but most are around and within the lake. There are also a few species of trees scattered around the plains. Osmos are small white and blue flowers that grow around the edges of the lake. They have small rounded blue petals on top and long, white, pointed ones on the bottom. The blue petals are about half the size of the white ones. They grow on short stems in clusters and sit in a bunch of small, round, thick, greenish blue leaves. Both the flower and the leaves are edible and have a sweet, slightly salty taste to them.
They are often used in sweet desserts. These flowers bloom year round and can survive some of the coldest temperatures. Many believe that they are able to survive such conditions because of their roots stretching deep in the ground, allowing them to soak up warmth. Ismerry is a type of silvery purple moss that grows on the trees, mainly the cequin tree. It can also be found growing on the rocks surrounding the lake. It is one of the oldest and most abundant forms of plant life in this area, dating back millions of years. There is more ismerry in the plains than any other plant. It’s thick and stringy, almost spongy in texture. Ismerry can be prepared in numerous ways for consumption.
Most zu’aan prefer to cook it and leave it to dry. It can also be steeped for tea, eaten raw, or roasted over a fire. Eating ismerry can ease stomach aches, nausea, and even fevers. It has a slight sweet taste to it. While it can be ingested, it can also be used to help stave off frostbite. When preparing for travel, zu’aan will stuff the moss in their clothing, gloves, and in their shoes. The thick moss can act as insulation. Cequin is one of the few types of trees to grow in Ormik. They can grow up to ten feet, but their trunks are pretty slim. Their rough bark, beneath the ice, is a light blue color. Even though they aren’t extremely tall, their roots are thick, strong, and stretch deep.
Like osmos, it’s believed that the roots are what allows it to not only grow, but thrive. Cequin is a bare tree. It has leaves or flowers. The only thing that grows on it is ismerry. Its branches are thick at their base, but get thinner towards their tips. A single branch has at least a dozen smaller branches splitting off. More often than not, a thin coating of ice covers the tree. During the winter, the ice can thicken to about two inches. Many zu’aan have gotten their hands stuck to the tree. In the summer, the soil around the base of the tree warms up as the ice melts. The dripping water is usually collected as it has a slight sweet taste to it thanks to the moss.
Most of the animals in the Ormik Ice Plains either live in the lake or are giant mammals with thick fur. There are a few bird species who migrate during most of the winter but stay in the plains during the summer. Some have developed characteristics that actually allow them to claw through the ice. Nearly all of them, save for a few aquatic species, are carnivores. When food can’t be found in the plains, they will often travel a bit south in search of it. Bhuvian are a large breed of bird. Their thick feathers are a mix of white and gray. Two black horns stick out of their foreheads. A long, thin, white, feathery tail flows behind them as they fly. They stand at nearly six feet with a wingspan of almost nine across.
These birds migrate south in the winter. Since they migrate for most of the year, they don’t make nests in the plains. Instead, they rest on tree branches when they come back. Their nests, along with their eggs, stay south. Bhuvian don’t like the extreme cold of the winters here, but they also can’t live in places of extreme heat. They like the cool temperatures that occur during the summer in the plains. Due to this, they don’t go too far south. Their diets consist of small and large mammals that they find south, and osmos flowers. They will occasionally dip into the lake for fish. Mitotan are a breed of large fish native to Ormik. They grow to lengths of around three and a half feet and can weigh almost seventy pounds.
Their diamond shaped scales are an iridescent blue and silver mix. They have two barbels stretching out about two inches each on the bottom of their mouth. Their diet consists only of other fish. While females can lay up to thirty eggs at a time, only a third of them survive. The reason for this is unknown. Some believe that the frigid coldness of the lake kills the weak ones. Brarut are a large breed of mammal. They walk on four thick legs and stand at a shoulder height of nearly seven feet. Their bodies are thick and packed with muscles, bringing their weight to almost three hundred pounds. Their long, hanging fur is white at the top and transitions to ight blue at the tips.
They hibernate during the beginning of winter and are active throughout the rest of the year. Their claws are a direct result of their environment and are able to easily claw through the ice. They dig giant holes to hibernate in, often blending in with the ice and snow covered ground. Females, after a successful mating, travel south to give birth to around three young. About a month after their birth, the young travel with their mother back to the plains. As omnivores, their diets consist of plants and mostly medium sized mammals. They are also known to try to catch both bhuvian and mitotan.