The life-blood of the continent, the River is fed by a semi-circular chain of impassable mountains. The River snakes its long way to the sea passing through the many realms and independent stakes all claiming a portion of its life-giving properties.
There are too many River estates to name as the River runs its course for many, many, many leagues. A trip from the headwaters to the sea would take — without interruption and from dawn to dusk and including the many stopovers to change vessels and travel detours — at least a full five weeks.
Many of these kingdoms and states are allied or friendly with one, or more, River kingdoms of note. These thirteen are (in descending order from headwaters to estuary):
- The Mountain Waters Kingdom
- The Twin Forks Kingdom
- The High Lords of the River realm
- The River Snake Kingdom
- The Fire Dragon Kingdom
- The Six Princes kingdom
- The Principality of Arvaan
- The Middle city of the River Lords
- The Empire of the Third Incline
- The Boundary Conclave
- The Broken Rivers Kingdom
- The River Reavers
- The Silver Estuary Dominion
These thirteen pretty much dictate the policies and prosperity of the River and all who share in its bounty.
The estuary is really a broad series of delta that are constantly changing and shifting alignments. Technology is not yet advanced enough to truly stabilise the region for those who live and travel through its myriad channels. In fact, the region is quite populous – but mostly on the fringes where the land has settled. The few settlements that are able to survive the changing nature of the area provide a haven for those who have to navigate its tricky waters.
Many traders choose to anchor beyond the estuary and offload their precious wares and cargo onto lighters that then transport to ports close by. From there they are transferred to land freighters who either travel to their destination or else cart to river ports beyond the estuary.
“Where the waters will it“
However, there is still those who choose to navigate the waters which are considered some of the most dangerous and treacherous for mariners. The transporters are usually low-keeled or flat-bottomed river barges or luggers. Occasionally, raiders from the sea will dare the waters but these are infrequent as the estuary is vast and takes several days to traverse.
“The darker it gets, the deeper it goes”
THE TREATY OF GOODWILL
The thirteen realms and states that “control” the River do so out of links to their ancient “historical obligations”. Back in the murky past, the River former the natural boundaries of the wandering tribes that migrated the shores. Over much time, that role was supplanted by subsequent migratory settlers who chose to establish land for personal or communal use instead of grazing and moving on. Gradually, the more powerful land owners bonded together for mutual protection and trade. The Treaty of Goodwill resulted. Over the ages, these potentates have changed in name and numbers, but the Treaty still remains active and current, albeit with numerous additions, amendments, deletions, and added responsibilities. Therefore, on a certain day in Spring, representatives from its signatories meet at the same location of the signing (in the land the Boundary Conclave) and spend all week discussing the merits of their power as it relates to the commerce and profit of the River.
The River is broad for much of its length, often separating many times before merging once more. Crossing the River is a journey unto itself and can vary from a day to several (especially around the Plains region). Ferries ply the waters daily. In places, there are stopovers when the journey takes longer than one day or when traversing towards evening.
The picture of a flat meandering sedate river is only one aspect of what the River is. It is much more than this postcard memory. The River manifest many moods and looks. There are the turbulent upper reaches of the headwaters, fed by thousands of streams and smaller rivers. There are the cascading over visually stunning and powerful falls. Flat broad majestic expansive views mix it with many tree-clothed islets that dot multi-channelled facets. The River is more than just a water-bearing string connecting one end of a map line to another.
“A name shared is no name”
This extract was taken from A General Guide to Visitors to the River, published by the Franss Print and Publishing Press in the Sixth Year of Lord Gulvo’s reign.
© 2017 L. Tafa