Ice Flats Geographic Location in Mudewei | World Anvil
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Ice Flats

"Ice Flats" is a name coined by Ta'zhen based on her erroneous perception of the great sea native Stenza call È-kîħòtôħ, and remains in use due to the taboo surrounding revealing its true nature to outsiders. It refers not just to the sea, but the surrounding region up to the midpoint of each of the four mountain passes, which are the boundary to the Frozen Wastes.


The region is a vast crater, the formation of which is discussed in Parevia, Lan'tha, and the Asteroid, a "just so" story covering the impact, the resulting radical changes to axial tilt (and therefore the gods' plans), the formation of the two natural moons, and even the development of the region itself (in some versions, not only did Lan'tha cause the substance to bubble up from under the earth in the punctures and fissures caused by the impact, but she also split the ring of the impact site, forming the four passes).   Over time, ice formations have smoothed out and softened the slope between the mountains and the sea, changing its shoreline in the process. The outer ring protects the region from some of the harsher weather in the arctic region, so the outward-facing slopes face more erosion than the inward-facing ones, producing sheer cliffs and areas prone to rock slides and avalanches, as well as some of the caves first discovered by Stenza ancestors.   The snow and ice of the region, and the blue-white luster of the sea itself, often reflect the auroras that can be seen during the dark season (although actual observers are rare, the auroras have been detected by camera probes).

Ecosystem Cycles

The Ice Flats, the sea, is most known for the role it plays in Stenza reproduction. About halfway through natal development, Stenza women bear their children directly into the sea to be nurtured by it. This typically occurs before First Sunrise and the heat of the daylight season is thought to be beneficial in some way. (Occasionally, pups will be born during the daylight season, as likely to be premature as fully developed and just "early", see: Daylight Birth. Whether this is an omen depends on who you ask.) Pups are then officially born just after Last Sunset (see: Welcoming the Pups and Holy Sunset), developed enough to eat solid food and cause chaos.   Around this time, adult Stenza form hunting parties, venturing out into the Frozen Wastes for prey animals. Planning beforehand and food preservation technology allow the modern Stenza hunter to gather enough food to reasonably last for a year, although this was not always the case. Historical hunting parties ventured out as often as possible, and evidence shows that Proto-Stenza may have spread beyond the Ice Flats simply for the purposes of hunting (although then as now, all reproduction happened at the great sea). Hunting during migration was also widely practiced, but in modern times has fallen out of favor.   (Also during this time, adult Stenza pair off to bone down (see: Courtship Rituals). Some adults split their time between the two practices, but it's not uncommon for women to have a litter or two, get themselves spayed, and spend future seasons hunting.)   After all of that, Stenza migrate. In olden times migration was a long on-foot journey through the Frozen WastesThe Migration Cycle arose during this time as a means of keeping track of time and place, and also not getting bored. Modern migrations occur on clan ships as often as not, although many old traditions are still maintained. Migration timing is dictated by the weather: plunging temperatures and the sense of oncoming storms (changes in air pressure or ionization) drive the Stenza south (or rather, out of home), and rising temperatures in their southern camping sites drive them back up north (toward home).

Localized Phenomena

Auroras have been captured on camera probes left behind by the Stenza during the night season, reflecting off the snow, ice, and sea itself.   Although somewhat rare, Stenza have recorded a number of years during the aptly named month "Breaking of the Flats" in which seismic activity under the sea floor vibrates up through the shear-thickening fluid, producing great columns and arches that move aimlessly over the surface, collapsing into each other, themselves, the sea, and the shoreline. Large chunks sometimes break off and fly about, sometimes crashing onto the shore (and rarely landing onto settlements and causing structural damage; the settlement shield has been very useful in protecting against the worst of it). Stenza wait until the activity has ceased before attempting to return these masses to the sea, and women who need to bear their pups while this happens are placed into temporary stasis and under close medical supervision (and prior to the invention of stasis, the masses themselves were used as temporary holding for the pups). (There are indications in older records of khe'drakha and other oral histories that this phenomenon is somehow connected to Jeshra, but the connection is very fuzzy and has been mostly lost in modern times.)


True to its name, the Ice Flats is most known for being freezing cold (the Stenza consider it pleasant, but to inhabit the same space, Ta'zhen requires the use of an insulating mesh and outer layers of clothing). Precipitation takes the form of snow or hail, and mostly occurs during the night season (there are two seasons in the Stenza calendar, day and night; day covers the time between First Sunrise and Last Sunset, and night covers the time between Last Sunset and First Sunrise; the coldest and darkest part of the night season, given the month name High Winter, is outright dangerous to the Stenza, and considered the domain of the Snow Warrior).

Fauna & Flora

The Stenza are perhaps the only large fauna to actually live in the region, although it is arguably the birthplace for cold-tolerant shrubs and plants, most Mudeweian birds, and a handful of other species (including extremophile single-cell organisms). The sea itself contains vast cultures of single-cell organisms, the exact relations between which are still under investigation. Fossils of prehistoric creatures have been found during investigations of the sea floor, although little is known about them.

Natural Resources

The most recognizable natural resource from the area is the Ice Flats Substance, a mysterious shear-thickening fluid whose properties are still under scientific investigation. It has been refined into a variety of materials, including several types of medical gel depending on the patient's needs, but true replication remains beyond the Stenza even to this day. It remains crucial to the birth cycle and latter half of the natal development of pups and so it is kept a strict secret from outsiders.


The Low Pass Stenza tell a specific story about Migration during their versions of the Litany of Creation. In it, Migration guides some of the earliest life forms out of the sea and over time, teaches them about the boundary between the Flats and the Frozen Wastes, the basic rules governing that space (i.e. libations before migration proper) and all the safe tracks through the Wastes during the winter. (The actual details of how life emerged from the sea are unknown, as there are no visible fauna in the sea itself; the fact that Stenza require the sea as is in order to give birth and nurture their pups properly may be a clue, but no one has been able to determine what it means. Even a proper scientist may shrug and say "It could've happened like in the stories. We don't know.")   The archaeological record shows fossils and chemical evidence of organisms from bacteria to the ancestors of birds, plants, and even the Stenza themselves. Among other things, it is well known that Proto-Stenza lived around the Ice Flats region, and may have specifically placed their dead in the nearby caves (in some cases these dead date back a couple million years and show evidence of the development of the Collective Knowledge, including cases of mutations that prevented disconnection and caused brain lesions and hemorrhaging).   The remains of animals identifiable as modern Stenza date back 27,000 years, and between then and 26,000 years ago many elements of modern material culture came into being, from ceremonial wear to bladed weapons. By the time Stenza started building settlements, their oral history traditions were most likely well established. Early clans fought amongst each other and themselves over causes as material as shoreline territory or food stores, and as immaterial as perceived slights. 'Elokh rose as a beacon of (at least temporary) hospitality culture in order to foster safe migrations, but periods of famine such as the Lean Years often made this difficult, or sometimes outright impossible.    Long-term peace was only possible due to the incursion of an outside threat, the Stone Menace. The battle lasted twelve years, spawning notable cultural events like the children of the Greater Pass venturing into the wilderness in a daring expedition to gain supernatural aid, before culminating in the invention of stasis and sealing the creature away for good. This paved the way for a new and initially confusing era of inter-clan peace, which fostered a host of social and technological developments from the spreading of blood sibling bonds across clan lines to developments in energy weapons and space travel.
Alternative Name(s)
È-kîħòtôħ (The Center of Life)
Crater / Crater Lake / Caldera
Location under
Owning Organization
Inhabiting Species

Articles under Ice Flats


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Feb 4, 2021 02:11 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

The Ice Flats are such an interesting area, and I love the history behind it. I also want to touch the weird substance. It calls to me.

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Feb 5, 2021 01:24

You can walk across it, or bounce on it :D (But try not to when the pups are in there, they can be very delicate, especially at first.)