The Fauna and Flora of Volchok

Only the hardiest of animals and plants survive in Volchok. Besides bears and wolves, those lords of the north, caribou and foxes tread through the snow-laden forests, their fur and skin as thick and tough as a cottage rug. In the freezing skies, owls and geese skit and glide, and in the waters, seals, whales and puffins swim inland during the summer and disappear in winter, looking for other, sunnier coastlines whose surfaces do not entomb. Smaller creatures too manage to eek out a living across Volchok, their tenacity to survive seen in their populous numbers: otters and ermine, arctic hares and lemmings, and of course, the white fox, whose beauty and elegance make the creature the symbol of Volchok.

Plant life too is hardy, able to survive in soil devoid of nutrients. Liverwords and hornworts speckle the tundra, whilst mosses of all colours bedeck the rocky cliffs and boulders that lie scattered along the northern and eastern shoreline. Wherever shrubbery appears, so to does bearberry, its leathery, evergreen leaves protected from the cold by silky hairs invisible to the naked eye. The red berries it produces attracts a range of animals, but it is the bear in particular who is drawn to it when meat is hard to come by. Caribou, foxes and hares prefer the Volchok willow, a dwarf shrub whose mint leaves provide sustenance throughout the winter for those who emerge from hibernation too early. Poppies, saxifrages, and cotton grass also grace the province, adding bursts of purple, red and yellow to the otherwise sheet-white landscape.

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