The Ancythrian Sea is a large
inland saltwater sea in Santharia, nestled between the
Enthronian Province to the South and East, and the
Province of Vardýnn to the North and West. From north to south the sea
measures around 420 strals
and has around 260 strals
of maximum width measured from east to west. In opposition to its name, which
comes from the Styrásh meaning
“Silent Sea” (actually the original name was "ancí'thyrón", the Ancythrian Sea
is not silent in the least, though it might have been calm in ancient days.
Today it is the home to many undersea creatures, such as the
khendochar, and home exclusively to
the Ancythrian shark. The sea is
more than abundant in fish, and the local fishermen are sure to take advantage
The Ancythrian Sea is also a major trade route between the Enthronian cities, having a port at Cavthan to the east, and at Elsreth to the west. Aside from that the sea is home to the Enclave of Alvang, an isle shrouded in mystery, as it was the site of a great battle, also known as the “Witchking’s Night”. Many an adventurer is said to have sailed into the heart of the sea to discover its secrets, and has not returned. Because of this, the townsfolk of Cavthan for example have taken to calling the sea by fell names such as the "Devil Sea", or the "Witchking's Waters".
Picture description. A destroyed fortress of Alvang on the enclave in midst of the supposedly cursed Ancythrian Sea. Image drawn by Seeker.
and peaceful most of the day and even seemingly quiet and inviting most of the
year, this large inland sea appears to be an idyllic site and a pleasurable
place to be for every trade ship. Most of the time, the Ancythrian Sea is just
that. But there are places in or around this vast body of
water which speak of death,
transitoriness, of witchery, monsters, murders, battle and betrayal, and the
deep blue of the waters, suddenly appears
unquiet and forboding in a way if you look too intense into it... When you move
along the Goltherlon coast in the early
morning and see a strange mist creeping along with your ship as if it is alive,
then you learn to pronounce the word "fear" anew - at least the storytellers of
Elsreth love to repeat this phrase when speaking about the "Devil Sea".
And not to forget the stormy nights at this place, which are said to be much fiercer than anywhere else in the whole of Santharia! Once the winds are unleashed and howl over the forsaken reefs, you better not be at sea, and if so, a prayer to the Twelve is in order to spare your life. Recounts tell us of horrible scenes taking place in the heart of the waters, of rain whipping the sea incessently and of waves of several peds in height making ships appear helpless and sometimes break them like little toys. At extremely heavy storms people also report to have seen mysterious phenomenons when out at sea: like hundreds of ghostly faces being reflected in the rain several peds above sea level, others speak of desperate ghostly sailors fighting against their drowning or of ghostships crossing in the very distance, of watchers looking at passing ships from the Enclave of Alvang and shrieks being heard from seemingly out of nowhere. What seems to be sure is that there are dark secrets buried in the depths of the sea, and while this all seems to make a good tale for a traveller listening to such accounts, one might rethink if one plans to cross the sea for some reason.
The Ancythrian Sea is not a freshwater sea, however it does receive a large freshwater intake, from rainwater rolling off of the High Fores to the west, and the Twinnean Peak and the Cylian River from the north. There are two main ports on the sea, one to the east at Cavthan, and the west at Elsreth.
However essential it is as a trade route, the sea is known to be rather dangerous. Storms become more frequent and violent the further away from land one sails. Also, the Ancythrian bladeserpent, a monstrous sea-serpent with a blade on its head, plagues the northern part of the sea, and it is believed to be connected the Enclave of Alvang, the cursed isle in the center of the sea.
There are two known grand reefs on this sea, one being the Blood Reef which is southeast of the Alvang, and the other, The Twilight Reef, directly to the south of the isle. Both reefs are odd, in that the corals there are unusually coloured, ranging from red to deep blue.
The Blood Reef is named so because it resembles greatly the colour of blood. Local folks say that the reef turned this colour due to the blood spilled on "Witchking's Night" at Alvang, when the elven dark lord, the Móh'rónn, killed many of his adversaries millenia ago when the kingdom of Santharia still was non-existing. The reef is enormous and a part of the rock that can be seen protruding from the water seems to have the shape of a gigantic hand - if the storm is upon you and you are close to the reefs it appears in the constant up and down of the waves as if an unseen giant is actually trying to grab at you and pull you down...
The Twilight Reef is named because it is a deeper blue than even the sea. Amazingly, small dots of light appear upon it at night, and it is often confused with the reflection of stars shining down from the night sky.
Both reefs are avoided by sailors, due to the known presence of the Ancythrian bladeserpent. Some even say, that the reefs attract ships magically or that they lure sailors into them by engulfing ships in thick fog, making it impossible to navigate properly. Yes, the reefs are even personified by some and among the most common names given are "Bloody Martha" and "Shimm'rin' Rochrin". In tales the narrators often only refer to them as presences out there in the dark, vast sea, and they use to call them simply by "he" and "she", fearing not to speak the names out aloud. There exists many a story about these reefs, and most of them are not suited for children, and some not even to grown up sailors having a faible for superstition. However, something either very brave or very unlucky happens usually upon a close encounter with the reefs and the results are generally unpleasant.
Location. The Ancythrian Sea sits in the southern Sarvonian continent, between the Santharian provinces of Enthronia and Vardýnn. On its western shores are the Goltherlon Forest, the High Fores Mountains and the busy capital of the Enthronian Province, Elsreth. The Cylian River flows in from the north, and to the east is the port town of Elsreth. To the southeast the Ancythrian Sea partly leads into a marshy area, the Seanian Swamps, which somewhat connect the sea with the Adanian Sea in the east.
People. The Ancythrian
Sea is almost completely surrounded by the lands which once represented ancient
Caltharia to the north, east, and
west, with Eyelia on a small strip
to the southwest, and Serpheloria
to the south. In current times the only cities bordering the sea are Elsreth,
Cavthan, and Doovens, with especially
Cavthan being a major fishing town. All those cities
today are heavily dominated by
Caltharians, though, as the Eyelian
and especially the Sophronian
influence has strongly diminished in this region.
The alchemy loving Golgnomes of the Goltherlon Forest also have access to this sea, dominating the Goltherlon area, where once upon a time the Goltherrhim elves lived. Some also claim that the spilling of so much blood against their fierce battles against the Helcrani back in the 8th century b.S. might have added to the "Curse of the silent, but deadly Sea".
Climate. From the shore, the sea seems as calm as a sleeping child. However, the further away from land you sail, the harsher the weather gets. Storms are commonplace on the sea, yet on occasion a ship may traverse the sea in all calm weather. A solidly prepared and well manned vessel could make it across the sea without problem... or at least without a problem from the weather.
There are storms year round, which is rather unusual for such a warm climate. The summer is the most violent season of the year, and it is difficult for trade, yet goods must get across the sea so the bravest of sailors still make the journey.
But once a storm hits, it hits hard. Cavthan and Elsreth history books are full with records of extraordinary damaging gales and thunderstorms making boats capsize and causing severe floods at the nearby towns and villages. "The wrath of the Gods rains on us in these days, renewing the curse of Alvang year by year, decade by decade, century by century", the Elsrethian poet Stringald Ahsion is quoted. "A curse the Children [of the Gods] have caused themselves by attempting to step up to them, and it is only fair that this hubris has to be paid for eternally. An eternal punishment for the Children's folly to try to master eternity itself." Whether one agrees or not with this judgement, it seems fact that although the sea appears silent as its original Styrásh name implies, within it lurks danger, fear and horror, and the strange and aggressive climate seems only to be a part of the whole phenomenon that is the Ancythrian Sea.
Flora. The most populous plant life within the sea is the aomar, an important crop for fish such as the mithanjor, who thrive off of the seaweed. To non-aquatic species, fishermen, and sailors, the aomar is mostly just a nuisance. The waterstar is also found in rather large quantities throughout the entire sea. Because the waterstar doesn't like still standing water, it is widespread where the Cylian River joins the Sea, yet there are none at its southern tip.
It is not uncommon to see doch nut bushes growing near the sea, yet it is more common on the western side than at the east.
Fauna. The Ancythrian Sea is home to a variety of species of fish. The Ancythrian shark is the largest and most deadly. Other species of large fish are the cáeh-fish, the khendochar, a kind of flying fish, the harmless mings, and the coult, a fleshy fish with vicious looking fangs, but also the 2 ped long ountramash and zash eels or the nutritious spiked starfish shouldn't be forgotten here. Smaller fish include the mithanjor, a small, rather common fish found throughout Southern Sarvonia, and the Ancythrian Sea specific spinneedler.
Non-aquatic species found near the sea include the mako, or "whiptoungue", a rather common lizard found in many of the warmer climates. Insects are always a bother on the sea. Ancythrian fireflies grow to a very large size in the summers, likely due to the high nutrient content in the water. They lay their eggs in the open water and in the lower decks of ships. When they hatch, they immediately begin to pester sailors.
The sea is also home to the notorious bladeserpent, a beautiful yet deadly creature that has caused misery to many a sailor and their families. Encounters with the bladeserpent have only happened at night, and in the northern part of the sea, close to the Enclave of Alvang.
History. The most memorable piece of history that surrounds the sea deals with the Enclave of Alvang. The fortress on this tiny island in the north of the sea was built by dark elves, the minions of the Móch'rónn Saban Blackcloak a few centuries before the joining of the ancient kingdoms to Santharia. This fortress became the center of all dark elven activities. The heir of the Móch'rónn, Serveran, led an assault against the enclave in 62 b.S., in order to put an end to Saban's ambitions. His forces included the elven archers, the Helcrani leader Corvas and his army, and the renegade dwarf Gonthrol and a large force of dwarves. However, not only had Saban left the enclave to attempt to topple the earthen titan beneath the Hèckra volcano, but a traitor alerted the dark elves to the coming assault. In the end, Alvang turned out to be a gravesite for many, as during an assault on the enclave, a magical trap was set off and nearly all of the fighters in the army were wiped out.
The nature of this trap is unknown, and it is believed to have something to do with the seemingly violent nature of the sea. It is believed by many historians that effects of this magical slaughter still linger over the Isle, and emanate into the sea, spreading evil with it. Because of the large amounts of accidents that happen involving ships drawing close to Alvang, this theory is very difficult to disprove. Some historians and for sure many superstitious sailors even believe that there is an active force of dark elves at the isle, plotting some sort of evil scheme.
Myth/Lore. In the northern part of the sea lies the enclave of Alvang, site of the Battle of the Witchking's Night. Many people claim that all of the fell happenings on the sea are actually due to dark magics emanating from the isle. It is also believed by some that the feared bladeserpent is some some sort of warden, to keep people away from the fell isle. One ship has actually set sail to the isle and returned, yet the two survivors were driven blind or mute, and rather mottled in the brain. Some other, adventurous sailors have attempted to sail to the isle, yet turned back, due to attacks from the bladeserpent, or for fear of damage to their vessel when a major storm suddenly approached out of nowhere. Some townsfolk even believe that the constant storms upon the sea are due to still lingering magic coming from Alvang, claiming that the sea's weather patterns are unnatural.
It is generally believed by the townsfolk of both Elsreth and of Cavthan that the further towards Alvang you sail the more perilous your journey will be. This has proved to be very true, as sailors who sail north to Alvang have never returned in good condition. This does not, however, mean that the sea is nice and clear everywhere else.
We'd like to mention a few stories here dealing with the Ancythrian Sea which we've overheard at a Cavthan inn to give you an impression on how people feel about the Sea:
The Coastline Fisher - An Account of a Cavthani
My husband, a bold fellow he was, decided for himself that our
yield of fish for the season was not high enough. Up and down the coast he
went searching for a fishing spot, yet could not find one suitable to him.
It is more likely, however, that a cáeh-fish capsized his boat, as the khendochar, the flying fish the Cavthani woman is referring to, are generally not aggressive. The cáeh-fish are rather large, and are known as the "bullies of the sea". The khendochar generally tend to steer clear of humans, though they are quite famous in Cavthan, due to the misfortune (or fortune) of the shipboy Leimolf:
The Saving of Leimolf. Leimolf was on a ship called the "Cantalanta" on its way from Elsreth to Cavthan, when suddenly a terrible storm broke loose in the middle of the night. The ship was struck by lightning, so that it broke in two, and in the turmoil Leimolf was thrown into the sea and separated from other crew members, who managed to hold on some driftwood to save their lives. For hours the small boy swam in the darkness in the vast sea, and just when he was about to give up all hope to ever come out alive again, he heard loud splashes and decided to move towards them. Leimolf finally found a small isle in the vastness of the sea, and for this he had to thank the jumping khendochar, who came out for their nightly feeding. Two days later a ship picked up the lost Leimolf on its way past the spot and brought him home safely.