The area commonly called the "Frozen Wastes" or just, "beyond the rim" is commonly defined as the expansive wilderness beyond the mountains that shelter the Ice Flats, and theoretically encircles the entire northern polar region of Mudewei. It is accessible through four passes, wherein the rough center of each defines the border between the civilized world and the wilderness. Although portions of it, especially farther north, are too cold and inhospitable to harbor anything but the most extremophilic life, the region also contains warmer regions which can support several unique types of plant (typically shrub- or grass-like in nature these serve as forage for Basket Horns and other herbivorous animals passing through the region along their erratic migration routes. Along customary Stenza migration routes, the way is marked by certain interesting features. Permanently frozen lakes dot the landscape, and there are odd formations of black rock jutting out from the ice at peculiar angles. These features have made their way into customary chants, and the Stenza have assigned them lore based on the adventures of the Snow Pup Migration. Furthermore, routes used during Hunting Season are also dotted with such features.
The Frozen Wastes are, like many regions on Mudewei, home to intense and sometimes erratic storms. While the Stenza have made a science out of predicting and modeling them, there are still a few which escape even their best efforts. Dubbed The Movements of the Snow Warrior, they can be seen as a reminder of the Snow Warrior's influence in a modern Stenza world.
Fauna & Flora
The most notable native species to the region is The Stenza, an obligate lipo-carnivorous species which has also developed sapience (and with it, technology and religious thought, allowing for a conception that the environment contains many spirits, the most notable of which are the Snow Warrior and Pups, who govern various aspects of the environment and are seen to personify such elements; the most notable of these entities are Migration, Hunter, and Fire). Advancements in food preservation technology have allowed the Stenza to shorten their hunting activities into their modern day form, which has picked up a lot of highly ritualized elements, as well. Stenza prey includes herbivorous species such as the Basket Horns, which wander up to the more southern regions of the Wastes to feed on the forage that can be found there, unique varieties of flowers, grasses, shrubs, and other such plants. The Basket Horns is the largest of the northerly herbivores, but smaller creatures do exist, and serve as prey specifically for arctic birds, such as Kʉrdeneχ (which are also hunted by the Stenza and prized as a food for special occasions, such as First Sunrise).
The Frozen Wastes also contains deposits of ores and crystals which the Stenza mine for their technology (although they are at such a point where they can mine asteroids or grow materials in labs as needed). Miners require supervision from religious experts before starting work, to minimize the impact to the spiritual beings believed to inhabit the region. The Wastes are also known for raging storms and are, as such, quite windy. The slopes of the Northern Mountains facing away from the Ice Flats see very high winds. The Stenza have constructed The Wind Fields (again with the supervision of religious experts) in order to harvest the wind's energy for electricity.
Archaeological evidence indicates that, for whatever reason, Proto-Stenza have been interring their dead in the caves just outside the Ice Flats basin for potentially millions of years. (Genetic evidence suggests they harbored a precursor to the modern Stenza Collective Knowledge, which some have suggested points to a capacity for religious thought.) The Stenza have rarely explored the vastness beyond, keeping mostly to customary migratory, hunting, and funerary routes. However, at some point in the distant past, clans began using the Wastes as a destination for certain rites of passage (which would, over time, evolve into both the Citizenship Trial and the adolescent practice of legend tripping). Surviving the challenge became a proof that one reached adulthood (and a corollary developed; the ability to assess the challenge as too great a risk or not an optimal step toward their career of choice is also a mark of maturity). Because the Snow Warrior is said to have a fondness for children, young people have a fair bit more leeway in the Wastes region than their adult counterparts. One notable example of this is during the Battle with the Stone Menace, when hundreds of youths, children and pups from around the Greater Pass region crossed the boundary into the Wastes to beseech the Snow Warrior for help with the current crisis, allegedly sparking the series of cold, clear days which followed and created the conditions that would ultimately lead to the Stone Menace's capture. This incident has been preserved in Greater Pass childlore ever since. Additionally, when Stenza discovered that certain areas of the Wastes contain materials they could use to advance their technology, they felt that this knowledge came with the awareness that appropriate and continuous appeasements of the Snow Warrior would be required, both for the materials and for disturbing his territory. The theme came up again when Stenza discovered a means to harness wind energy for power; The Wind Fields' construction is predicated on an agreement with the Snow Warrior on its allowed boundaries. In both cases the constraints forced Stenza to develop more efficient means of construction, utilization, and storage, as well as to look elsewhere wherever possible.
Related Tradition (Primary)