Helɉarva Settlement in Estia | World Anvil

Helɉarva (hel-JYAR-va)

Few speak of such nonsense more than those who loose their tongue about Helɉarva. For who could believe the absurdities required to think people live in such a place.
Helɉarva is the most northern major settlement, located in the tundra country of Koljorn carved into an ice-cliff that faces the Impassable Sea.


Helɉarva's ice caverns are home to just under 5,000 Helɉan, who are almost entirely human. Dwarves are not entirely uncommon to see, but inhabitants all other races combined could be numbered on two hands.


Helɉan is ruled by a tribal council called the Makkaden made up of the patriarchs of each of the nine largest families in Helɉarva. Together they rule, each being a ruling head that can hand down decisions and judgements that are only able to be overruled by another Makkaden, in which case the final decision is made by vote amongst the Makkaden. The loss of one of the Makkaden means the immediate inclusion of either the new patriarch of the family, or the patriarch of the now larger family.


A similar council is formed by the matriarchs of the nine largest families in Helɉarva known as the Makkadenna. The Makkadenna is a lower council whose primary function tends to be religious and familial.

Industry & Trade

The people of Helɉarva are almost entirely isolated. Travel on the tundra this far north is a death sentence even in the warmest summer weeks. The only point of contact Helɉarva has with the outside world is a miles long tunnel at the back of their caverns that leads to a small underground dwarven town with whom the Helɉarva rely on for trade.


Boats & Fishing

Fishing and whale hunts are the primary source of sustenance for the Helɉan. Due to a lack of wood and other light materials however, the Helɉan have learned to craft boats using simple metal frames that are layered over in ice. The boats are designed to have flat bottoms so that they can transition from water to ice-shores easily. This allows the Helɉan to traverse the Impassable Sea like no others.


During the summer weeks the young and strong Helɉan participate in a series of whale hunting parties. This is the most crucial point for the Helɉan as they will live off the meat and fat from the whales for the rest of the year and the whales only travel through the area for a few weeks each year. The rest of the summer is spent collecting several varieties of seaweed, hunting sea dogs and other northern animals as well as casting fish nets.


During the long winters, fishing becomes very dangerous with an increased amount of sea ice collecting near the shores as well as the frequency of bitterly cold winter storms and extremely cold temperatures.



When a fishing or whaling party finds an orphaned baby animal or ends up orphaning some baby animals, they will bring those orphans back to the town to be kept as pets. Depending on the animal they may also be trained to fish and hunt with the parties. Otherwise the Helɉan keep no livestock.

by Be Coventry

Mining & Crafting

In the winter months Helɉan men and women take to mining and crafting professions to keep them busy during the long nights. Women will split and dry seaweed into weavable fibers that they will use for rugs, bedding, lighter clothing, fishing nets and ropes. Skins and furs will be used to make warmer and outer layers of clothing after being tanned by firelight. Painted clays will be fashioned into beads and precious stones embedded into ice sculptures.


Mining parties are a popular way to escape cabin fever during the winter. Women will mine for Snowstone and painted clays while men will hunt for metal ores and precious stones. There are primitive smelting and blacksmith stations deep in the stone caverns for making simple hooks and spears.


Helɉarva is carved out of a nearly sheer ice-cliff about two-hundred feet above sea level. Passages, doorways, windows and buildings resembling stalagtites are carved into various chambers that are that have been expertly formed over centuries almost entirely out of ice and Snowstone. Near the opening to the cliff chambers are kept as cold storage rooms that store food and other supplies that can be kept at freezing temperatures. Beyond that is a series of layered doorways and an upward climb designed to prevent winds and gusts from entering the larger chambers and to trap what little heat there is in the upper chambers of the town, protecting it from the harshest of winters. The chambers while warmer than the cold tundra outside are still below freezing with buildings carved into and throughout the chambers out of ice. Buildings and rooms determined to be 'fire rooms' are insulated on the inside with Snowstone and stone to limit heat escaping into the outer chamber. Some buildings can tower as high as 3 stories, while smaller chambers may only contain single-story buildings.


Dancing Lights

In the darkest nights, the dancing lights remind us that beauty is most brilliant at the edge of the world.

Shafts in the ice above the town have also been carved out to refract light from the face of the cliff into the ceilings of each chamber. During the day this provides a twilight-like glow. At night, dancing lights in the skies refract through the shafts, creating a dancing rainbow of colors and lights throughout the town during the long winter nights.

Related Ethnicities
Inhabitant Demonym

People & Culture

Generic article | Dec 27, 2021
Helɉan Hair
Tradition / Ritual | Dec 28, 2021
Tradition / Ritual | Dec 28, 2021


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Dec 2, 2021 02:34 by George Sanders

That is a large community in the ice! It would be interesting to see what food they hunt and other activities are prevalent in the community. How did they get there would be an interesting myth article too. You got me thinking.

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Dec 2, 2021 03:34

Yes! I debated a lot about how big the settlement should be. Obviously the challenges of living in ice are a limitation, but my research about ancient Mayan cities holding 100k+ people AND talking about a settlement that has largely not had to deal with external conflict, and has been pretty isolated for generations I thought it would be interesting to push those limits and see how it turned out. But yes! History, religion, language and more info on life there as well as some characters are coming soon! Thanks for the read and comments!!

Dec 2, 2021 03:38 by George Sanders

Sounds like some good plans. I better Follow to see how things develop!

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Jan 6, 2022 05:20

I really like this town out there in the ice. It is very well done with great details I may have to expand my world into the polar regions one day.

Jan 7, 2022 19:28

Thanks Solstice! Appreciate the comment! Polar areas can be so much fun, especially when you want to be in a fun wintry spirit!