Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Mistbane River

The Mistbane River, or the Blue Creek, has its headwaters in the far Rhodope Mountains where it begins as little more than a trickle. It tumbles and flows, following many courses through the Shelves of the Mist, where it gains more strength from tributaries and earns its river name. It breaks free of those hills just north and east of the small town of Petersboro and the Darkenfold. The river widens here and slows its pace considerably, drifting down beneath the eves of the Darkenfold where it continues its southern journey. The river is slow, ranges from 80-120 feet wide, and is rather deep except in the few fords that breach its travel. The Mistbane’s flow is often accompanied by patches of light or heavy fog, which reduce visibility considerably. The fog is considered by many of the locals to be dangerous and is avoided at all costs. They speak of tales of ghosts who snatch the unwary from their roosts and carry them to the seas beyond. The river continues its course through the Darkenfold by turning sharply west in the Millorian and passing through Lilly Fair, an even more dank and deadly portion of that horrible wood. It is eventually joined by the Westerling and then flows into the Bay of Brundus near the sandy beaches of Lawn. The banks of the Mistbane sport many wonderfully tall and full-bodied willow trees. These trees often reside on small grassy knolls at the water’s edge allowing their branches and leaves to brush the water. They are vaguely-sentient relatives of the older sentient trees and treants. These willows serve the river as guardians of sorts, offering refuge from the river or the forest, or both.

The river is, as the locales attest, haunted. For to the north, just below the river’s headwater, in the lands known as the Shelves of the Mist, the elves once gathered in great numbers. They built refuges from the Winter Dark in the many hidden valleys and dales. But a long war, the Seven Years War, with orcs from the east, left many homeless and or dead. Amongst these was their beloved Princess. She was buried upon the banks of the river amidst a field of winter lilies. Hence, the name of said fields. From there, her spirit rose and traveled the full course of the meandering river to the Beaches of Lawn. The Fields of Winter Lilies are often covered in a thick fog, for here the dead gather (the spirits of the fallen elves) both of the great wars and those who lived in more modern times. The scars of the Winter Dark still haunt the elves of Aihrde and their fallen cannot come back to life. When they die, their spirits perish with them or wander as lost souls throughout the world. And here where the winter lilies grow, they gather, for rumor of their Princess comes to them and they seek to follow her to the sea.

In patches great and small, these dead spirits of the elves travel the length of the Mistbane River, wrapped in fog and mist, following the river’s course to the Bay of Brundus. They do not travel quickly and only the strongest winds can move them, but even then these patchy clouds of soul-dust defy the wind, moving slower than one would think they should. Each patch contains 1-4 banshees, some are evil, some are good, and most are uncaring, seeking only to be reunited with their princess. They haunt the river all year long, and are often hidden in real patches of fog or river mist. Encountering one does not necessarily mean a battle must ensue. As often as not, they drift by or around creatures without ever taking notice, though those so engulfed may see the haunted, terrified faces of the dead leering out at them from the moist fog. The banshees are driven to rage by any form of excitement. If creatures flee or attempt to cast spells or act out in any way, it may drive the banshee to attack (50% chance); however, if there is battle or they are openly attacked, the banshees are driven wild and attack anything within the mist or on its edges.

Encountering these creatures can be deadly as any encounter with a banshee can, though the banshees rarely travel more than a dozen or so feet from the waters edge. Protection can be found in the shade of the willow trees that dot the bank of the Mistbane. Here the spirits of the dead will not go, for the willow trees hold a deeper appeal than that cast by their fallen princess – and they fear them.

~The Mortality of Green & The Codex of Aihrde

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