The Aerelian Lakes, located in
the Vardýnn Province of
Santharia, are made up of six separate lakes: Saléstra, Aelignós, Evhodín,
Melágria, Rhélean, and Codáth. The names of these lakes have been briefly
studied by a handful of scholars of Vardýnn, who have
tried to trace back to the etymological roots with limited success. The names,
scholars say, have been melded by all the languages spoken in the area,
including derivations of Styrásh
and Tharian, even hints of
Thergerim that may have traveled from the Fores.
Nestled just south of the Aurora Fields, the lakes are famous for their sapphire-blue colouration, but for the villagers that depend on them and their resources for survival, they serve as more than just a beautiful view: the lakes provide water and food, as well as a temperate climate with gentle seasons that facilitates fertile growth in the nearby Aurorian Hills.
Picture description. The brilliant blue water of Aelignós ("White Rock Lake"), the largest Aerelian lake. Image drawn by Seeker.
Description. The Aerelian Lakes are reported to be some of the most beautiful in all of Santharia, renown for the sapphire-blue hue of the waters. Many travelers to the lake have reported on, and been inspired by, the startling blue.
The beauty of the lakes has caused the capital of the Aurorian Duchy Salsaír to
become a rather popular summer retreat for
lesser nobility in northern Santharia. Many have
built small castles and cottages along the lake, from where they can admire the
colour in the ease and comfort. Many affluent patrons send their painters to
the lakes to immortalize (or try to immortalize) their awe-inspiring beauty,
especially coupled with the peaceful view over the
Aurora Plains, with its grasses billowing gently in the breeze.
These varied attempts to capture the lakes on canvas have created a great many works of the lakes, in all different seasons and weather. While those who have seen the intense colour and have felt the tranquility imparted by the lakes may doubt any of these representations have truly captured their essence, the paintings are nonetheless very popular, and one or two hang in most noble houses in mid and northern Santharia. If one cannot afford one of the lovely oil paintings by a master painter, novice painters often sell smaller, cheaper versions on the streets of Salsaír.
In addition to the colour, the lakes provide a cool, relaxing experience in the shallows, for those looking for some relief in the summer. The larger lakes, especially Aelignós, are prone to currents, though often these currents are not as dangerous in the shallows. In the summers, the children play almost every afternoon in the clear blue waters.
In the fall and spring, the lakes provide the rain that feeds the fertile growth of the nearby plains. In winter, the shallower, stiller waters freeze over. During this time, only the smaller lakes with less current, namely Saléstra, Melágria, and Rhélean, freeze over completely and are relatively safe for playing on in the deep winter months. Many people go skating, an activity involving iron blades fastened to wooden shoes. Often times the blades come from old farm equipment, and can easily be refashioned to fit on the bottom of boots or clogs. The activity itself requires a great deal of balance, but remains a popular past-time in the winter months for those living around the lakes.
The lakes themselves vary in depth, though none know for sure how deep the waters go. Some claim the lakes go down several dashes, while others contend the larger lakes go down more than a stral. Children often say that the lakes are so deep, they must go down a dozen leagues! - of course, this has all speculation.
translatable as "White Rock Lake")
Aelignós resides just south of Salsaír, and its name may be a derivation of the Styrásh “aelién” (white) and “galnós” (rock). The Steppe of Kruswik just to the south slopes downward into the lake, and the rocks, in certain light, appear light grey or, some people claim, at times a creamy white as the water washes away the soil and dirt. Many who visit the area come to take a few light-coloured pieces of stone as souvenirs. At one point, a great number of architects had planned to use such stone to build the summer retreat of a wealthy nobleman who was fond of its appealing colour, but the softness of the rock made it a poor choice for building.
Aelignós’s proximity to the Steppe of Kruswik, in addition to lending its white cliffs, also serves to supply much of its current. The cold winds from off the plateau coupled with the warm winds coming in from the west merge over the steppe and create unstable waters in the lake, especially in spring and fall when the currents are especially strong. While the records do not state it, it was probably the Aelignós in which Karissa, a member of the Voldarian Council, drowned in the early b.S. 1600s (see Myths/History).
Because of its size, the Aelignós supplies the largest fish of any of the lakes, and for this reason, many Salsaírian fishermen brave the dangerous waters to catch them. Highly skilled fishermen have a penchant for this lake, which they see as both generous and severe, a lake that only the most courageous and skilled can truly fish. Younger or more novice fishermen tend to fish the smaller Saléstra Lake.
Saléstra resides just west of Salsaír. Although it cannot compare in size to the Aelignós, which lies to the south, and Codáth, to the west, it remains one of the most important for the human inhabitants. It resides close to the city, and most of the city’s water comes from this lake. It also provides water to the farms to the north of it.
A great many fish inhabit the Saléstra, and though they may not be as large as those in the Aelignós or Codáth, they provide ample sustenance to many living in the area. Apart from fish, the lake provides a plentiful source of shellfish. Saléstra has considerable marshland, and provides a perfect habitat for clams and other shellfish, which can be collected almost year-round. The lake also provides wonderful recreation. Unlike Aelignós, whose currents at times pose a danger, the currents of Saléstra are far milder, and the lake’s surface freezes almost completely during the winter months. This allows for skating and other fun winter activities for the nearby villagers, particularly children.
Positioned just west of the Aelignós and south of Saléstra lies Evhodín, one of the smaller of Aerelian’s six lakes, and either due to its size or shallowness, has very few fish but it plentiful with shellfish and crustaceans, particularly clams and crabs. In late spring and summer, some villagers in and just outside Salsaír trek to the lake for the annual crabbing, where friends and families make sport collecting, cooking, and consuming the crabs that propagate around the muddy banks in dizzying numbers.
This trip to Evhodín is repeated throughout the winter to enjoy skating and other activities on the ice, such as cone shuffle, in which a cone is swatted back and forth across the ice with sticks. Because of its shallowness, Evhodín’s surface freezes earlier than many other lakes. In general, its smaller size and shallow waters, not prone to dangerous currents like the Aelignós and Codáth, make it a relatively safe lake in all seasons.
Codáth dwells farthest to the west, closest to the sea and close to the Crow Hills and the Vontron Forest. While the lake does not have as much activity as Saléstra or Aelignós, it does supply food and water to many small villages along its shores, and many roads pass near the lake - particularly roads leading to Salsaír from Thyslan and vice versa. Because of the size of the lake, it yields larger fish than many of the others.
In addition, Codáth’s location close to the Crow Hills, the Vontron Forest, and the Ilian Plateau give it some of the most diverse wildlife of any of the other lakes. Occasionally creatures from the nearby forest venture out from the wood to drink from the clear waters, and a great many creatures that often prefer the higher elevations descend down for the same purpose. Like Aelignós, the lake has strong currents, though it loses some strength due to the Vontron Forest, which blocks some of the winds from the south. Still, the currents can often be dangerous, and there have been incidents of drowning.
Rhélean (often referred
to as the "Gem of the Aerelian")
Rhélean is the smallest of the lakes, and the hardest to get to on foot, as the tiny lake is surrounded almost completely by the Aelignós and Melágria lakes. Despite this, Rhélean is often thought of as the most beautiful of the lakes. Many claim that its relative isolation has preserved an immaculate beauty, and some call the lake the “gem of the Aerelian”.
The Rhélean Lake freezes over completely in the winter, but because of its location, it isn’t often a popular winter playground for skaters; nor, in the summer, do many come to relax in its waters. Its beauty and relative isolation have made the lake pristine, and many consider it a semi-holy site.
For this reason, priestesses often perform rituals to Baveras here, and a small temple dwells just northeast of the little lake. Built many centuries ago by a mother settling down after wandering many years, the temple has since been maintained by her apprentices and apprentices' apprentices who have done the same. Occasionally in its history, the temple is left empty for many years until another old priestess returns and settles down to restore the temple in her old age.
Melágria (known also
commonly as the "Welcoming Lake")
Melágria lies to the southeast of Rhélean, and is often the first of the Aerelian Lakes that travelers from the south see as they journey into the Aerelian plains and Salsaír. A great many poems have been composed by weary travelers, such as the one mentioned above, about this lake, and it is often viewed as the “welcoming lake”. Seasoned travelers who routinely travel south to north, often make the lake a stopping place - a place to rest, to wash, and to refresh before continuing the journey.
Because of this, many small inns have formed to the south of the lake, greeting travelers and providing food and shelter for the road ahead. While most who have seen all six lakes agree that the Rhélean displays the most vivid blue, many believe the Melágria to be the most beautiful, because of the relief it imparts to travelers who have traveled so far through such harsh country.
Below is a poem written by one Nyermersysian nobleman traveling from New-Santhala on his way back home, reflecting on the startling blue of the vast Aerelian lakes:
Location. The Aerelian
Lakes are located in the middle of northern Santharia,
and are intimately tied to the Aurora Plains to
the north, as many animals inhabit both areas. The mild climate of the
Aurora Plains is often attributed to the lakes,
as the bodies of water often keep the summers cool and the winters warm. Many
of the seasonal rains also come from the lakes, over which rain clouds form to
be blown over the plains by winds from the west.
To the west, slightly north, are the Crow Hills, and to the southwest, the Vontron Forest, where the Sanhorrhim wood-elves dwell. From the south, the Ilian Plateau descends steeply into the Steppe of Kruswik, which in turn slopes gradually into the lakes, and creates a cliff face to the south of the longest lake, the Aelignós. To the south each, the High and Lower Fores, cradle the lakes.
The city of Salsaír resides just north of the Aelignós, and just to the east of Saléstra. The city gets both its water and a good deal of its food from these lakes, and as such, the people both depend and thrive off them.
People. The lake
provides sustenance to a great number of people, most obviously the people of
Salsaír. Much of the population of this town is
Helcrani, though the population,
just like the Helcrani tribe itself,
is very mixed. A fair number of gnomes, prominently Daran, occupy the city,
along with many humans of mixed blood.
Occasionally, a Centaurorian
can be seen among the townspeople, but often they only pass through for
The Centaurorians benefit a great deal from the lake, particularly the Aelignós, as many of them dwell in the Lawapedion field of the Aurora Plains. Often they will lead their horses many miles to drink from the calm and clear waters, which many of the horsemen claim make their horses stronger and healthier. Those who herd sheep and cattle also travel great distances to the lake.
Farmers living in the Asloriath Field of the Aurora Plains often use the lakes, particularly the Saléstra, to water their crops. Much of the farms in the south of the field are watered through a developing irrigation system, though most farmers still depend on the seasonal rains to provide hydration for their crops.
While travelers do not make up a sustained population, it should be noted that they also derive great pleasure from the lakes, both as a source of water and as a cool bath in the warmer summer months. Often travelers from the south designate the lakes as a stopping point to break up their long journeys.
Climate. The Aerelian Lakes actually help to create the mild climate of the area. The large bodies of water help sustain cool summers and warm winters. During the summer, in particular, rain clouds form above the lakes and move northeast by the winds from off the Ilian Plateau to the south and winds from the west off the sea. These rainclouds thus wander into the Aurora Plains and let lose their water to feed the land. Much of the natural beauty and abundant growth of the plains is attributed to the lakes.
The moisture from the plains often causes dew in late summer and early autumn, which turns to frost when the weather grows colder. The area is prone to light snow, but receives little more than a ped per year in the area around the lakes. The springs melt the chill of winter quickly, and the summer comes again with the lakes providing gentle rainstorms to keep the surroundings from drought.
Flora. While the lakes do not yield fertile ground for most land-dwelling flora, the shore provides rich nutrients to the surrounding area, such that many flowers, shrubs, and grasses grow along the periphery. Cerubell grow near the lakes, particularly on the northeast side, though they can be found in droves all around and between them in the spring. Their blossoming is celebrated by huge clouds of ceruwing butterflies that amass to drink nectar from the small little flowers.
The fábrige also grows here, though not directly on the shore. Many see the mild climate induced by these large bodies of water to engender particularly suitable conditions for this fruitful plant. The currents of the lakes (the same currents which have been blamed for events of drowning in the lakes’ history), allows for the growth of elegant waterstars, in a few select areas.
Within and near the lakes, the aomár grows on many rocks and stones along the shore, and on some of the cliff faces of the Aelignós and Codáth, where the water laps against the rock. They occasionally grow under the water, on submerged rocks, as long as there is ample sunlight.
Along much of the lake’s edge, the yealm reed grows plentifully, such that from a distance, the lakes can be identified by the white plumes of the reeds that sway in the breezes off the water. The reeds flourish here, often growing to three peds high. In places where the water is shallow for many peds, the yealm reed creates a shaded marsh where small fish, clams, and frogs thrive. The muddy thickets that the reeds create maintain the habitat for these creatures, and the decomposing plants provide a nourishing environment for many insects that in turn provide a staple for the lake’s animal life. Additionally, the grains shed in autumn provide food for mithanjor and other small fish dwelling near the shore.
Fauna. The lakes provide a lush habitat for a myriad of fish, crawfish, frogs, small sharks, and other water-dwelling creature. The mild climate allows a great many creatures of both cold and warm dispositions to habitat the large lakes. One of the most plentiful fish is the common mithralfish, which travel in schools near the surface where they primarily eat small flies, gnats, and insects dwelling above water. They also share the top waters with mithanjor, though these fish generally dwell in shallower waters near the edges of the lakes where they dine on aomár and other water-loving flora. Here they share some territory with fresh-water crabs, such as the marsh crab. These kinds of small creatures are commonly feasted upon by larger, more predatory fish, such as the lysh pike, along with sharks such as the sand shark and torsha shark. These predators will also occasionally eat the mini kraken inhabiting the deeper waters.
Often many wild creatures dwell close to the lakes not only to drink the clear, blue water, but also for the many sources of food that the lakes provide. The flunki is particularly fond of this area because of the plethora of prey that dwell in the nearby Aurora plains, as well as the fresh source of water. It feasts upon the vegetation that grows in the area, and occasionally dines on the small rodents that inhabit the surrounding area.
The flunki is not the only land-dwelling animal drawn to the lakes. The rast warg often finds both fresh water and prey here, as many deer, including the prieta, the fork-horn, and the starbacks, inhabit the surrounding area. All these varieties come to the lakes to drink, and make easy prey for predators living in the Aurora Plains, as well as those that dwell at the edge of the Fores and Crow Hills. Smaller creatures, like rats, field mice, tareps, and ferrets also come to drink the water before scurrying back into the tall alth’ho grasses that cover much of the Aurora Plains.
Herders often keep their sheep and cattle near the plain. The farms outlying Salsaír get much of their water from the lakes, and some horse-breeders believe that the water has some quality that contributes to a healthier, finer-looking horse. In the last few decades, an irrigation system has formed and been improved to bring water from the lakes out to farms farther out. Many human and gnomish builders have been working to extend the project. The system is in its infancy, though, and many farmers hope to bring the system out farther in the next few years.
Mythology. The story behind the creation of the Aerelian Lakes tends to be a matter of much disagreement among scholars, historians, and even villagers. While the stories are all different, all agree that the Aerelian Lakes were created from a tear Baveras shed at some point in the early creation of Caelereth. It fell upon the earth and broke into the six lakes of Aerelian. For what reason the tear was shed, many disagree. Some claim it was because Baveras had once called to Grothar and he had not returned her call (he was visiting Jeyriall to ask for a gift for his love). Others contend that the tear was shed in joy, when Baveras was presented with the lovely waterstar. The reason for the tear, though, may always be debated.
Resources. The Aerelian Lakes provide the nearby villages with, most notably, water. While the water itself is of varied quality depending on one’s location and the amount of marshland, the lakes also engender occasional rainstorms, which always deliver clear, pure water. These lakes grant the people not only enough water to sustain themselves, but also to stave off drought and nourish the crops on which the inhabitants depend.
The lakes naturally provide seafood to the people, and many of the surrounding villages have a great many fisherman. From the lakes, these fishermen catch mithanjor, mithralfish, and others to feed the village. In any season, but particularly in summer, the marshy areas of the lakes are filled with men and women, pants rolled and skirts hiked up, gathering clams and shellfish in the mud. The villagers near the lakes depend a great deal on the lakes for their daily food.
Myth/History. The two largest lakes, Aelignós and Codáth, both have very strong currents, currents which have caused the death of a great many people. The unfortunate circumstance of so many deaths has led to the myth of Nereina, a lonely, desperate spirit that occupies one or both lakes, and who pulls people, mainly children, down into the water. Her story, as told by an old Salsaírian fisherman, is as follows:
Story of Nereina. Once a very long
time ago, before e’en I was born, thar lived a young maid named Nereina, a
lass so lov’ly and so fair that all who looked ‘pon her did say she was
more byuteous than th’ flowers bloom in spring. She was born in a village
by th’ lakes. Her hair, as black as moonless night, and yet her eyes war
like the cloudless skies. She married a young men o’ good repute, a great
fisher, they say, and yet many years passed and she bore ‘im not one
Nereina’s story has inspired a myriad of other stories and songs surrounding the illusive figure, now mostly made of myth and legend. Many say that she doesn’t just pull people under the water - she calls to them, enchanting those who hear her voice to drown themselves in the lake.
However, these accounts seem to be mostly imagination. As far as anyone knows,
no one has drowned by wandering into the lakes in the middle of the night. Those
who do claim to have heard singing from the lakes have not been enchanted enough
to drown themselves.
However, the currents of the lake for which Nereina is given credit have led to the death of one historical figure In the early b.S. 1600s, it is said, Karliss, daughter to Lord Santwin and wife of Nikos, fell into the Aerelian lake and drowned. The account was given by her son, Jarat, who was twelve years old at the time, yet whose tale is marked with inconsistencies. Karliss’s death marked a shift in power within the Voldarian Council, as Nikos took her place. Both Nikos and his son Jarat were later slain by Katya Ileri in b.S. 1648.