Many a traveller succumbs to the chill of the Frozen Horn, not just from the sheer cold and lack of edible food, but because of the fact that it is a magical dead-zone. The only traces of magic found there are in the trees made from ice and their cores eager to freeze any who approach. The people who live there live among the trees, their temperments matching the icy winds that rushes through the leaves. This is no tourist spot, no matter how warm the hotsprings may be, and the bodies speak for that fact.
The Frozen Horn, sometimes referred to as the Ice Belt, is the northwestern-most area of Eil’s only continent. While it may be famous for some of Eil’s only hotsprings, it is also notorious for claiming the lives of those who wander unprepared into its wilds.
The landscape is sheathed in ice and snow, a victim of the near constant snowfall that accumulates within the mountain ranges that border the region. The coast is plagued by a mobile ice field that fades the line between solid ground and ocean to the point where even the locals have a hard time differentiating the two. The illusion is only strengthened by the fact that, on occasion, the ground opens up in fissures in the spring, covered by the shifting ice and snow to form a possibly fatal trap for those not careful enough.
The north? Gods, it’s one big death trap, not worth whatever the hell sits in the ground. And I should know, I almost fell into the damn ocean! I’d like to give whatever Deity thought it was a good idea a piece of my mind.
Jagged cuts of rock jut out of the ground where the earth, among the spring’s streams of ice water, forms valleys and small canyons. These spike pits are usually some of the only clearings in the massive forests of the southern portion of the tundra. The trees grow close together here, making for a tricky escape from the predators that weave through the trunks to hunt their prey.
I don’t care if the Mellies call them their home and all, but me? I can’t stand more than a day in those forests. You could tell me that there were 15 people in those woods and I’d still tell ya that I could feel 60 pairs of eyes on me. Just creepy. Dunno how they live there.
Sometimes the valleys and pits won’t be so deep, more like small burrows for animals, or people, looking to keep warm. Once in a while, the Frozen Horn will be hospitable, providing a steaming stream of mineral-rich water to seep out of the ground. These hot springs are usually underground, heating the earth above them to comfotable temperature, but when they break through to the surface, the springs provide a home for the unique amphibious fish and pond life to thrive alongside the surface dwellers.
While the Frozen Horn may have earned its name, beneath its crust it is home to a sprawling geothermal system, something the native Mellies
make good use of in the colder months.
Don’t know what else whoever you’re interviewing’s gonna say, but HOO BABY! Them hot springs? Worth the trek, one hun-DRED per-CENT. Hell, if I had one last place to go before I died, I’d totally go back to those springs. Even if I had to do it all by myself, with like. No supplies at all. Just wish that the fish were less nippy, though...
Flora & Fauna
The most notable flora in this region are the Frozen Willows, trees made of ice and covered in it as well. They radiate cold from their cores, discouraging anything else from growing next to it, good thing that these trees are quite rare.
The less rare flora are incredibly hardy, some evolving to even counter the Frozen Willows’ intense cold, let alone the freezing winds. Some stay in hibernation until the summer, while others don a thin film over their leaves to dispel gathering ice. A few even draw in the slim amount of magic around them to manipulate into heat.
Thick bark is common among the larger species, a few even growing extremely close together to prevent animals from eating the bulk of their protective armor. Of course, this close-knit forest comes with a downside, that being that parasites that survive the cold can easily take out a majority of the trees before their Mellie gardeners can successfully kill them.
The fauna that live here are built to be strong and warm, even through the coldest portions of the year. Thick fur and blubber, or a great amount of one or the other, is common, along with enough muscle mass to support twice the amount.
Burrowing animals are the majority of the species found in the Frozen Horn, their huge, tough claws allowing for them to slice through the ice like it was paper. They normally have a few layers of thick fur over their strong muscles. The predators among them have sharps teeth to match their claws, and jaws that could rip off an adult Human’s hand if they so pleased. Strangely enough, the burrowers are mainly docile, predator or not, especially when relaxing in hot springs.
Those who slink through the tightly-knit boreal forests may not have as much fur as those who live out in the open, but they are considered some of the most agile creatures in the land. Long, thin bodies and curved claws are features of both predator and prey, along with an uncanny ability to camouflage. A predator and prey may be stationed right next to one another without noticing the other, until a larger being trips over one or the other and they all go off running back into the underbrush.
Lunged, amphibious fish live in one hot spring and lay eggs in the next, great migrations occurring in the midst of the warmer summer months. They may be soft and squishy, but their spiny bones and vicious attitudes prevent predators from having an easy snack.
Various other creatures live in hot springs, many of them able to move from one to the other in case it dries up. Those who are trapped there have usually come from the volcanic vents that the water has emerged from, and they will sink back into the firey warmth when the time comes.
Wood is a primary export, along with the pelts of the thicker furred creatures that preside in the Frozen Horn’s plains. The freezing core of a Frozen Willow may go for a high bid as the supplies are limited due to their rarity. Ice is also an incredibly common export to the Heated Highway, especially in exchange for the sand that keeps in heat so well.
A rarer export would be the metals found in the mountains, especially the ones that prevent much magic from flowing through any who touch the raw material. What may be perfectly capable of conducting magical energy elsewhere seems to have the opposite trait when found in the Frozen Horn’s mountains.