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.

Aelignós, the largest Aerelian lake

View picture in full size 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 Thanes and 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.

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:

Brilliant Blue

I’ve traveled many miles now
And many more I have to go,
I go by pastures where men plow
The land with steed or ox or hoe.
I’ve passed fair maids with golden tresses
Collecting harvests in their dresses.

I’ve passed through mountains topped with snow,
Through forests filled with elven song
This land is lovely, yet I know
The road ahead’s still rough and long
I travel now beneath clear sky
When all at once, to meet my eye--

I see the plains give way to white--
The yealm tufts white as wayward clouds--
Then blue! A blue to fill my sight,
So stunning that I cry aloud
So far from shore, how can it be?--
A blue far bluer than the sea.

Uderza blue, but liquid form,
And glinting in the honey light.
The lake’s bright hues at once transform
All weariness to pure delight.
A shade so fair is sure a sign
This lake is touched by one divine.

Baveras must visit here.
The breeze I feel must be her sighs,
And of the blue, so bright and clear,
Must be reflection of her eyes.
And here I cannot be but light
So taken by the handsome sight.

When I am but in pensive mind
When troubled, my poor heart doth ache
In darkest times, I can but find
Great solace to recall this lake--
Remember in its splendid view
I saw Her eyes in brilliant blue.

--Sir Reindolph Fontayn

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. Return to the top

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 supplies.

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. Return to the top

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. Return to the top

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. Return to the top

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. Return to the top

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. Return to the top

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. Return to the top

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 child.

She wished day and night that th’ good Gods might bless ‘er with a child of ‘er own. And one day, ‘er belly grew, and she bore a little boy whose name may e’er be lost to hist’ry. When th’ boy was still a young lad, his father grew ill and died, and Nereina, how she wept for sorrow! And held ‘er little boy e’er closer to ‘er bosom, so precious he was to ‘er—was all she had!

When th’ boy grew older he went a-sailing on the lakes, fishing, as it were, for his mother and ‘im. They say it was summer, and the clouds ‘bove th’ lake brought storm upon th’ lad, and capsized his boat, and th’ boy was lost into th’ dark blue of th’ lakes, drowned. Nereina, so fraught with sorrow was she, that she threw ‘erself into th’ water and drown ‘erself.

They say she longs e’er for ‘er little child, and, lonely in ‘er wat’ry grave, she’ll oft pull poor souls into th’ deep, and drown ‘em. So be wary, lads and lasses, or ye, too, may find yerself taken under th’ waves!

-Narration of Old Tom Benderholf, a fisherman of Salsaír

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.

Nereina’s Song

The moon’s a gilded disk that lies aglow upon the lake
The people of the village sleep, and yet I lay awake,
For often in the dead of night I hear a melody -
A woman singing in the night, who seems to call to me.

I toss and turn, I try to sleep, and yet - her haunting call
Reverberates inside my mind. I long to leave it all.
I rise and leave my small abode upon the darkling shore.
I hear her calling out to me - more desperate than before.

I forget the night, the water’s chill. Her voice fills my mind.
I step into the currents now, and leave the world behind.

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. Return to the top

 Date of last edit 11th Awakening Earth 1671 a.S.

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