The Winterlands set above the Hearthlands, and are divided into two regions, the Low and High. On the eastern side, the Low Winterlands extend from the Icebarrier Mountains north to the foothills of the Shattered Moor, run around the top of Nerenel, the taiga elf forest, and then down through the Winding Peaks to the mouth of the Highwater. In the west, where no mountains protect the lands, the Low Winterlands begin as far south as Chalcis’ Highmoor, and continue north around Witchwood to the Sigilrun River, the northern shores of Serpent Lake, and the Iceblade Mountains.
Above these imaginary boundaries lies the High Winterlands. In the northern Low Winterlands, snow lies on lowlying ground for 9 months of the year, though the hills of the Shattered Moor are rarely ever snow-free. The temperature is typically around –5 degrees in mid-winter (though it does get colder) and rises to an average of 40 in summer. Further south, the lands enjoy an actual summer, where the ground is snow free for as much as two months, depending on the weather. Even down here, however, only the surface is ice-free. Beneath the topsoil, the ground is permanently frozen all year round, which hampers the growing of all but hardy root vegetable crops. It does allow for goats and sheep to graze, however. The temperature rarely reaches heights of over 55 degrees during the summer, and in winter, regularly drops below 5 degrees. The High Winterlands are near-permanently frozen. The temperature is below freezing for most of the year, and even in high summer, it struggles to rise above freezing. At night, and when the Hellfrost wind blows, it can drop to as low as –55 degrees. The ground is buried beneath a deep blanket of snow and ice except on the warmest summer days, when patches of hardy grasses poke through for a few days, before being covered again.
Hearths burn all year round in the Winterlands. In spring, vast bonfires are lit to melt the frozen soil to allow planting of hardy root crops, the main staple of the region. Yet for all the hardships and deprivations they suffer, the citizens of the Winterlands are no less hospital to strangers than those of the Hearthlands. Perhaps, as the locals joke, misery loves company.