The Narwatuine River

Also known as the River Nara, the Nara Twine, and the Narat'wine, all roughly mean the same thing, the red river. The river itself is broad, deeply flowing, and carries a large amount of sediment from the plains and mountains far above it. This tints the water reddish-brown even when the weather is agreeable. The river floods regularly, much as the Nile does, and it has made its river valley a highly desirable place for farming, ranching, and mercantile enterprises.

The name is Elfin in origin, narwa tuine being 'red river', so most people are knowingly or not calling it the Red River River.

The valley itself is broken down into four distinct sections: the Delta, the Low Water, Center, and the Waterwood.

The Delta is where the Narwatuine drains into the ocean, and after uncounted years has built a massive delta, complete with swamps, shifting sandbars, and a vibrant estuarine ecosystem. The local economy is built around shipping, fishing, aquaculture, and tourism. The largest city in the delta is Isilona. Isilona is built around the mouth of a major bay in the delta and is the destination of many travelers and merchants. Goods go downriver to Isilona, and then to distant markets. Gold flows upriver back to the mines, farms, ranches, and more. The city is famous for its annual Lunar festival, market by pastries only made for the holiday, and parades held by the city guilds and nobles. There is also a profusion of cotillions, masquerade balls, and deliberate social intrigue so that the normally straight-laced and reserved Isilonian nobility and middle class can put on masks and costumes, get drunk, and engage in bacchanalia.

A few miles upriver from Isilona is the fortress city of Ambal Rund. The city started as a military outpost and grew until it was a full city of its own. It was built to act as a gatekeeper on the river and to guard the rest of the delta from forces moving downriver. Given the lack of warfare that followed, most of the original fortification has been carted off or forgotten, and the city exists as a number of low-walled districts. There is an East Ambal and West Ambal, and they are connected by a series of three bridges, each having tall towers at each end. Ambal Rund reflects Isilona's decadence by having a large number of cathedrals and churches, being an intensely pious city. It has many of the same traditions, but more of an emphasis on raising pigs and making sausage than using marine life exclusively for food.

The Low Water is upriver from the Delta and is a very large region. The Low Water claims the coastline on both sides of the Delta, the broad coastal plains sloping gently up to sparse rolling hills and thin woodlands. The region has vast amounts of arable farmland, good grazing, and pleasant weather. The population of the region is diverse, but there are unpleasant legacies surrounding this. The ancient masters of the land were slave-keeping people, and many that were brought to the Narwatuine were brought in shackles of iron and sorcery, to fell trees, work forges, man mines, till the soil, and toil in the fields. Different races were gathered for those purposes, and they created ethnic enclaves and made sure the different slave races had no love for each other. As long as they hated each other, they would not work together.

Eruanna Nor was built on the shoulder of the river, a massive sprawling city, full of artists, musicians, entertainers, and craftspeople. During the bad old days, Eruanna Nor was the provincial capital, and the wealth of the valley flowed into its gleaming white and gold gates, born on the backs of slaves. The legacy of art and music remain, but the alabaster and gold are gone. When the Ancient Empire fell to internal war, the local nobility holed themselves up inside Eruanna Nor as if under siege, and then turned on each other, slaying their own kith and kin with knife and sorcery, poison and paranoia. The city fell into turmoil, there were rebellions, and those who had served the ancient masters were pulled down and most were murdered, viciously. Eruanna Nor burned, and it took decades for the city to be rebuilt.

Halatirno, Raumos, and Maiven are also considered Low Water cities, but they are not inside the bounds of the Narwatuine valley. The King of Halatirno claims the Low Water as part of his kingdom and would make Eruanna Nor his seat, but the effort required to rebuild the fortress there, coupled with the general attitude of the people towards kings and masters has persuaded him to keep his main court at Halatirno, and only visit Eruanna Nor during certain festivals.

The Center of the Valley is a triangular piece of land claimed very strongly by Queen Tar Nuvom, of Yerran Nuvom. The Center land of the valley is notably flat and broad, with almost no forest or hills. The river is especially broad and navigable. Whoever holds the Center, holds the river trade, and given the strength of Yerran Nuvom, they are not likely to give it up. The Queen is a distant ruler, and the region almost never sees her, but her soldiers and tax collectors are very much present in the spray of towns and cities along both sides of the river.

Tournaments are a major part of life in the River Center, more so than any of the religious bacchanals or parades downriver. The region also has a strong military tradition, support of the landed gentry's knights, and the Queen's Collegium of Magic. The school is a repository of magic, trains mages to keep their works within a religious framework, and more than anything else is a mundane college for nobles and wealthy people to send their kids to become educated.

The Waterwood is the most upriver portion of the Narwatuine and is noted by its ancient mountains, deep forests, waterfalls, and forgotten places. Wealth comes from the Waterwood in the form of gold, gemstones, rare metals, lumber goods of exceptional quality. The main city of the Waterwood is small, but Taureseld is considered a place of incredible wonder and unbelievable things. Originally the mountain/summer retreat of the ancient masters, it has become a provincial capital and repelled multiple attempts at invasion. Some of the things that can be found inside the great mountain city include an ocean capable great galleon that has been turned into an inn, a castle that is half in ruin because it has been flipped upside down and dropped, a secret ocean full of marine life hidden inside a great hall, and a population of intelligent bears that can walk on their back legs, speak, and have their own lands and economy of making art and being entertainers.

It is rumored the High Lady of Taureseld is a member of the Ancient Race, and that it is her power that has protected the Waterwood, and kept invaders at bay.

The Valley Without Borders

Attempts have been made to conquer the Narwatuine Valley, and none have succeeded. While magic has been a factor in several such wars, there are two larger factors. Several of the nations that claim pieces of the Valley are friendly towards each other, so when there is a threat, they send aid. Sometimes this aid is men and swords, knights and mages, and sometimes its food, gold, and material support. The last serious attempt to conquer the valley ended in disaster for the Kingdom of Ramaloice.

The Ramaloicians attempted to cross into the Valley across the Low Water, lay siege to the Delta, seize the low and the center and put the Waterwood to the torch. The campaign into the Waterwood was blunted by heavy rain turning to snow. The King of the Low Water sent an army of footmen and a supply of food and material goods to support the other nations. The Isilonians turned their ships to piracy, raiding the Ramalocian shipping, and when there were no ships, putting ashore and burning Ramalocian camps and villages along their own coast. The main army was bogged down, supply lines threatened, support waning at home, and then the hammer fell. The heavy horse and heavy infantry of Yerran Nuvom, bolstered with magic and war bears, smashed the Ramaloicians and scattered them into the hills.

Six months after the route, the King of Ramaloice was slain by an assassin's blade, and they left one of the distinct six-sided playing cards used in Eruanna Nor's gambling parlors as a literal calling card, the Jack of Lutes, strumming his strings.

The final ace in the valley's favor is the people. Despite hailing from over a dozen different races, the people of the Narwatuine valley consider themselves a single people. There are certainly racial tensions, and such cannot be avoided when humans, orcs, halflings, hill dwarves, and more all live in the same general location. But when there is a threat, the dwarf and the orc who hate each other with flag-waving passion are suddenly stalwart allies. Cities that at times seem unable to go a year without some sort of riot turn out militia levies with a burning passion to defend what is theirs.

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