From the Shelves: The Yavas River

The Yavas is the slow, patient mother of Tyrantium. It has always been a member of the geography and topography of these lands and it has helped mold the early days of the tribes and clans that lived in in Tyrantinum before the Empire, before the Magicians, before the Horse Lords and the hordes.

The Yavas is a gentle flow that trickles down from the jagged peaks of the Demir Mountains, hitting the flat lands and slithering lethargically northeast until it vanishes into the forests of Chevain and splits, arcing south to the Prasinos Sea. At its widest, it creates an immense bog and swamp that the city of Trennon is built on, but it loops around and through the mountain passes until it hits the northern fringes of the steppes where it narrows and carves a deep gash through the land.

In the old days, tribes congregated around the Yavas River. They started as fishing clans who found shelter in the bogs or along the banks, enjoying the natural defenses that it provided. But as the clans grew with their stability and safety, they became farmers, spreading out along the river and intermarrying with their fellow river tribes. While their agrarian society grew, the herdsmen and hill tribes began to take notice and prey upon the river tribes.

Fortifications began to rise along the river and basic defenses were constructed. While war was no stranger for the river tribes such as the Baliki, the Polati, the Ayvaz, and the Ozmen formed a mutual pact against the Hill Tribes that were centralized between modern day Dorothea and Umberlyn. The River Tribes formed their pact through trade and marriages, holding back invasions and raids from the Hill Tribes.

But it was the Steppes that proved to be their greatest enemy.

When the Horse Lords of the Steppes came to power, riding up from the south where the Paythian sands had forged them into harsh, simple beasts of war, the River Tribes were not ready. The River Tribes were decimated upon the first invasion of the Horse Lords, under the banner of Sahin ul Sancar. When the warlord turned toward the wealthier, fatter Prasini Aristoi along the eastern shores of the land. Those who remained of the River Tribes moved quickly, coming away from the banks of the Yavas, their Holy Mother and patron Goddess, to build a fortress on a great basaltic monolith. This became the bastion and beacon to lure the future invasions of the Horse Lords after the death of their leader Sahin ul Sancar.

This fortress became known as Death’s Rock. While Yavas kept the River Tribes fed and protected from the ever present Hill Tribes, Death’s Rock faced invasion after invasion. While it was successful, Death’s Rock became increasingly powerful in what is now known as Tyrantium’s lowlands. It began to demand tribute and the best of their warriors to hold back the Horse Lords. As the River Tribes continued to burn and suffer from raids, both from the Hill Tribes and the Horse Lords.

When Urhim ul Swahir rode up from the Steppes, his horde, knowing that the Rock was too strong for them, instead built rafts along the Yavas, bringing death to the river as he sailed his entire army the length of the river, sending riders to cut down anyone who might attempt to warn the neighboring settlements. While the Yavas burned, it is said that ninety percent of the River Tribes were killed or taken as slaves by Urhim’s forces. With the River Tribes wiped out, the Hill Tribes moved to the banks of the Yavas and began taking over the settlements, picking the bones of their ancient enemies.

When Urhim receded to the steppes, reigniting war with the Prasini, Death’s Rock marched upon the Hill Tribes, attempting to reclaim the Yavas from them. The war was bloody and lasted less than a year before Urhim heard that the Rock was preoccupied. The horde returned and caught the defenders of the Rock off guard, killing those encamped beyond the Rock along with the Hill Tirbes that had crossed the Yavas. Learning of the Hill Tribes, Urhim abandoned his war with the Prasini and once more commissioned his army to take to the Yavas and build a bridge to the northern bank. Crossing, Urhim slaughtered and enslaved the Hill Tribes, pushing his horde as far north as Fenkland.

For centuries, the Yavas was abandoned for being too dangerous and too vulnerable to the Horse Lord raids. It wasn’t until the Magicians Uprising occurred and Tyrantium was founded that the Yavas became a valuable resource again. Death’s Rock oversaw massive farming colonies that fed the wars that Tyrantium waged with neighboring kingdoms and tribes. As centuries of war and imperial construction passed, the Yavas became known as the Bread Mother of the Empire. While slaves toiled in the field, the Yavas continued to flow, flooding the lowlands and fertilizing the land for crops.

It is said that the Elethyn dwelled in the bogs of the Yavas, luring slaves from their tasks and pulling them into the slow waters, drowning them as they kissed. While history has shown that these stories are little more than fantasies, it was a useful distracation from what we do know. Within the swamps of Yavas, the city of Trennon was born. The Yavas has fed and encouraged trade between the cities of the Territories in the years of the Empire’s collapse and decline. While it is no longer worshiped, or revered as it once was, the River is still a vital member of the region.

–A Study of the Empire of Tyrantium

Professor of Histories, Wallace Cavanagh of the Academia

(Acquired by an Agent from the First Draft of Professor Cavanagh’s Study.)

A lot of people have died between the banks of the Yavas. They say that there are more skulls and bones beneath the still waters of the Yavas than there are river rocks. I believe it too. Since the day I came to the Rock, we have sent more patrols, engaged in more skirmishes, and out-played more ambushes along the banks of that bloody river than I have anywhere else in Tyrantium. The Hills are nothing but festering dens for raiders and marauders. You can’t let a season pass without some charismatic outlaw getting banished from one of the Territories and planting his flag on the banks of the Yavas, declaring a new utopia that we have to go burn to the ground.

The Viziers pay and we burn.

Simple as that.

I’ve never seen a river that is more treacherous as the Yavas either. If you’re on the southern bank, you’re guaranteed to be drowned or flooded out of your homes at the very least. They have to build their homes on stilts, but the cows don’t know come with stilts, or the goats, or the chickens. They come whining to us every Spring, right around Melting, blubbering about their favorite dog or favorite kid getting washed away in the waters.

But, come harvest, they reap a bounty larger than they had ever before and suddenly their tears dry up and their blubbering stops. They just go out and buy what they lost and then end up losing it all again when Melting comes back. I don’t have the patience to tell them that it’s the dead that are feeding their crops. It’s the blood in that cursed river and the bones and the rot that it slowly pulls down stream with it. Somewhere, that river ends and there’s nothing but a pit of bones, deep enough for a man to go all the way back to the first bastard that drowned beneath the surface of that river.

Some of the Hill Folk, the kind that encamp right at the base of the headwaters in the Demirs say that the river is the home of an angry goddess, the pagan kind that demands little children be drowned to bring the floods every year, to feed their crops, to bring the fish. They don’t kill their children anymore, but they drown a bull still every year. Damned pagans are going to end up on the bad end of a Holy Conquest one day, but I can’t help but think they might be on to something.

The Yavas has always given, sure, but it takes a hell of a lot more than it gives.

The river inspires madness.

-Scout Captain Norbert of Death’s Rock.

(Taken from the corpse of a courier near the banks of the Yavas.)


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